Pyrrha has a play-date of her own

One of the interesting results of having a second dog in the house is that Pyrrha’s play style has changed. Since adding Eden, she has (1) become more testy in our yard when we have dogs over, and (2) become less engaged in play, particularly if we’re not in our yard.

Pyrrha and Fiona get to play

Both of these consequences have been interesting and frustrating at times. This past week, we had to take care of Fiona for the evening, and I decided I’d just take Pyrrha with me. (Side note: Eden’s play behavior with Fiona has become increasingly untenable. Essentially, she takes advantage of Fiona’s strong submissiveness, and won’t let Fiona off the ground for the first 10–15 minutes of every play-date. This, obviously, has made Fiona rather fearful of her. We’ve been trying to work on this, by helping Eden calm down with a “pack walk” — with Fiona at a distance, and they only get to greet each other when Edie is in a calm, collected state — but it’s still a work in progress.)

Pyrrha and Fiona get to play

That said, Fi and Pyr had a lovely evening romp together. It was fun to see Pyrrha really enjoy herself with another dog (without her pesky little sister tagging along). She actually played with Fiona, something she hasn’t done since Eden joined the family. Pyrrha seemed genuinely happy to play chase and tag with Fi, and Fiona just adores Pyrrha (kind of like a little girl looking up the cool, older girl in school). It was very sweet to see them together.

Pyrrha and Fiona get to play

In short, the evening was a good reminder that it’s sometimes a good thing to break up the sisterhood and let the dogs do things on their own.

Do your dogs behave differently when they’re not with their canine siblings? Do you ever create solo outings for this reason?

Watching Fiona, waiting for snow to melt

We had a lovely, loooong weekend here, waiting for the snow to melt. My parents came up and helped us with a lot of home improvement projects, and we were dog-sitting Fiona, so we had lots of fun with the three girls.

Walk with these 3 crazies. Sweet shades, @jfarkle.
My dad and Guion walking the three crazies.

Pyrrha and Eden were very sweet during the busy weekend, and Fiona is always a joy to have around — and the perfect energy-level match for Edie.

The girls

Eden and Fiona would play for hours in the yard, hardly taking a break to breathe. It’s so fun to watch them wear each other out.

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Pyrrha, meanwhile, liked to do her own thing. She’d wander around in the yard with the young’uns, and occasionally join in their games of tag, but for the most part, Pyrrha likes to keep to herself. I was especially interested to note how comfortable she was with my parents, particularly my dad. While he was installing our new disposal (YAY), she was at his side constantly — surely thinking she was being a great help.

Pyrrha consults while Jak installs our disposal.

The little ones got tired very quickly! Which was blissful.

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As a side note, I particularly noticed this weekend that Pyrrha and Eden have been doing very well together. For a few weeks there, I was worried that we had two dogs who didn’t like each other. There was a lot of daily squabbling, and I felt tense about their relationship. But over the past few weeks, they have been so great together: calm, appropriately playful, respectful of each other’s needed space, etc. The tension is way down, and they seem to genuinely enjoy each other now. I think we were just going through a settling-in period, and they were just figuring each other out. After all, we’ve still only had Eden since the end of December, so I imagine they’re still learning about each other — but they’ve been making great progress, and I’m proud of them. Thanks to you all for sharing your stories and advice about living with multiple dogs (particularly two females)!

Weekend away: Little dogs in Ohio, our dogs at home

We had a weekend with my family in snowy Ohio, and the girls were able to stay at our house with our WONDERFUL, saintly friends and their pup, Fiona, who you probably remember seeing in play-date pics.

While I very much missed our little monsters (more than I thought I would, ha! Absence makes the heart grow fonder… and forget the annoying puppy mischief-making), we enjoyed the company of Sadie, my aunt and uncle’s “corgeranian” (corgi + pomeranian).

Fuzzy bullet. Sadie! #familytrip #corgeranian
Sadie! Fuzzy bullet.

Sadie is one of the happiest dogs ever. She may not be the brightest dog I’ve ever met, but this is also probably why she is the cheeriest. She doesn’t worry about anything! Sadie just wants to skip and hop and sleep on the sofa. Here she is comforting Guion, while he was battling a migraine:

Sadie comforts Guion during his morning headache. #ohio #familytrip

Dog whispering. #familytrip
With my brother-in-law, the dog whisperer.

I wish I had video of unbelievably adorable habit of hopping and flipping in the air when she’s excited (which is often). She was VERY excited to meet her cousin, a 3-month-old toy poodle named Bailey.

It's been a weekend of adorable little dogs. #poodlepuppy #familytrip
Bailey.

They played very well together, and Sadie was very gentle with him. Their play session showcased these two stuffed-animal-looking pups acting like proper dogs: play-bowing and chasing and grinning at each other.

Meanwhile, back home, our girls had a great time with Fiona in the house. Sallie was so sweet to send me photos throughout the weekend of their time together:

Eden and Fiona
Fiona and Eden share a bowl of water.

Fiona and Eden are, as you can see, BFFs, and they really get on well together. Pyrrha resorted to her typical moping behavior (in my absence), but she didn’t seem too fearful. I think the presence of the other dogs (and the fact that she knows Chris and Sallie well) was comforting to her. SO inexpressibly thankful for friends like these, who will watch our dogs for us when we can’t!

Fiona and Edie
Love the coordinating reds of their coats.
Sallie with the girls
Sallie with all three girls in our living room.

How was your weekend? Ready for SPRING??

Dog life lately

We’ve been having fun with our pups, even when they drive us crazy. I’ve so appreciated hearing from so many of you with your tips and tricks on puppy raising, daily walks, and allergies. Collectively, you have a wealth of knowledge, and I’m always so thankful to receive your comments.

Home security system
Home security system.

Here’s what’s been happening lately in our new multi-dog household:

Pyrrha the disciplinarian

Home security system
That side eye from the baby.

I’ve known this about Pyrrha, particularly with our younger fosters, but she likes to play the role of school marm/elder sibling disciplinarian with puppies. It speaks to her inner dog, which is really just a curmudgeonly old lady. If I chastise Eden, Pyrrha likes to follow up on my admonishment by chasing her down and growling/grumbling in her face. Sometimes she grabs Eden’s scruff too, by way of a larger warning.

Essentially, I’m not sure if I should intervene when Pyrrha displays this behavior. Pyrrha lays off after a few seconds, and Edie is always unharmed (and then will usually just go back to whatever unwanted behavior she was carrying out). My best guess is that this is a behavior that older dogs exhibit toward puppies, and I imagine it will fade as Eden matures, but I don’t want to unwittingly let them fall into a bad habit if I can stop it now.

What do you think? Is this problematic? Do your dogs ever “discipline” each other?

Eden the disc dog

Work from home
Guys. I am biased, but she is CUTE. Even with her raggedy tongue.

We have discovered that Eden loves playing Frisbee! She has a high retrieving drive, so my husband made a good guess that she’d enjoy chasing a disc. She’s addicted! Eden is still learning how to jump and catch it, but she’s learning the game very quickly. No shepherd can really compete with a border collie or aussie in this realm, but I think it’s going to be a game that she can enjoy for a long time. Guion was so inspired from teaching her that he went and immediately bought her $40 worth of the high-end dog discs (Jawz, by Hyperflite). Ha! #spoiledpup

I don’t have any good photos or videos of this yet, so for now, here she is with her other favorite toy: an old gourd, left over from Halloween.

Little Miss Packrat's favorite toy: an old gourd. #weirddog #ediebaby #vscocam
Such a packrat. Not a disc but an old gourd. And one of my socks.

Fence as a frustrating barrier

Our new yard is bordered by unfenced yards. In particular, our various neighbors on the left have several small dogs (an ancient maltese, some tiny poodle mix, and a Jack Russell terrier, from what I can tell) who they let roam (without leashes) through various yards and straight to our fence. This drives Pyrrha CRAZY. Her behavior is a mix of reactivity (frustration mixed with fear) and some desire to play. Eden is just excited to have visitors! We’re trying to figure out when these dogs are released, so that we can time our potty breaks differently, to avoid outbursts. Meanwhile, it’s kind of frustrating.

Daily walks

Daily walk
On a walk.

We’ve been working on daily walks, something that I confess we didn’t do with Pyrrha. Yesterday, we walked for an hour on the trails near the river, which is always heavily populated with dogs and children (Pyrrha’s top reactivity triggers). Overall, I’d say it was a successful visit. As usual, Guion walked Edie, and I walked Pyrrha and looked like a total lunatic, armed with my treat bag and clicker and my constant scanning of the horizon for kids or dogs.

Edie walks in front of us, so she gets to encounter people, kids, and dogs without watching any fearful reactions from Pyrrha. This strategy has worked well for us so far. Eden got to meet a laid-back, friendly hound, and the introduction went very well. The hound was on a retractable leash, however, so I kept Pyrrha very far away from him. There were lots of dogs out, but we were able to avoid any reactive outbursts, which is a victory in my book for Pyrrha. Edie continues to be bothered by nothing, which is an encouragement and in keeping with how we have perceived her personality over the past few weeks.

I really love walking our girls, even if Pyrrha’s fears occasionally mean that we have to cut our walks short, take weird routes, or appear rude to children or dog-walking neighbors. I’m thankful that we have a reactivity protocol in place to help her, and I’m always thankful for days in which she has no outbursts. And, of course, we’re also thankful for our new, confident little baby, who balances the scales.

Playing with Fiona + shifts in Pyrrha’s play style

Play date with Fiona! #doglife @sallie516
Playing with Fiona!

In our new house, we live even closer to Fiona, so it’s been fun to have play-dates with her. So far, Fiona is the only play-date guest we’ve had in the new house; we need to get out more invitations!

Something I’ve noticed with Pyrrha’s behavior with Fiona: Since bringing Eden into the family, Pyrrha has markedly changed her play style with Fiona. She is frankly kind of a bully to little Fi. Fiona is extremely submissive, and she spends the first 10 minutes of every play-date on her back, belly-up, lying very still and letting our bossy girls sniff her to death.

Once she starts to run, however, Pyrrha chases her and rough-houses in a way that she doesn’t with other dogs; she even humps Fiona, which is a behavior Pyr rarely exhibits. I’m not sure why this is, but it’s a definite change. Eden and Fiona, meanwhile, play beautifully together, as they have similar (high!) energy levels. Eventually, Pyrrha just lets them chase each other in circles and then just goes and does her own thing.

Have you ever seen your dog change his or her play style? What do you think caused the shift?

Synchronized sleeping. #babies #doglife #vscocam
Synchronized sleepers.

We’re thankful for our girls, issues and all!

Big challenge coming up: We’re hosting a housewarming party with 50+ guests in two weekends. Socialization gauntlet! I think Eden can handle it; Pyrrha could if there are no children and no one wants to mess with her; but we’re going to have the crates and a quiet room ready just the same. Whew!

Hope your weeks have been going well!

Puppy punk
This photo also says a lot about their general demeanors.

Pyrrha at “camp” with Fiona

While we were away this weekend at my brother-in-law’s wedding, Pyrrha got to stay with Fiona!

As you can see from this blurry action shot, the girls had a great time together.

Pyrrha gets to stay at Chateau de Campanelli this weekend! Fiona is swift, ideal company. @sallie516
Fiona and Pyrrha playing chase.

This was our first time leaving Pyrrha with non-family, and it apparently went well! Chris and Sallie (Fiona’s parents) are wonderful and thoughtful and did such a great job making Pyrrha feel comfortable. They reported that she was very shy and didn’t want to interact with them — which is her typical behavior in a new environment — but that Fiona’s presence was comforting to her. Pyrrha joined them on long walks, and she even had a play-date with a young golden retriever!

The girls in Fiona's backyard. Photo sent by Sallie.
The girls in Fiona’s backyard. Photo sent by Sallie.

Sallie also reported that Pyrrha didn’t exhibit any leash reactivity on their walks toward other dogs. I was very encouraged to hear this, but it also made me think that I’m probably part of the problem here. My anxiety about seeing other dogs surely amps her up, too. Something to continue to be aware of!

Pyrrha hiding out in Fiona's yard. Photo sent to us from Sallie.
Pyrrha hiding out in Fiona’s yard. Photo sent to us from Sallie.

We’re so thankful to have such great friends in town who can watch Pyrrha when we’re away. It really puts my mind at ease. I don’t think I could ever bear to board her in a traditional kennel environment. Hope we can return the favor for Fiona soon!

That said, we’re still in the thick of a really crazy season of life, so posting here may be more sporadic than usual. Thanks for your patience and kind comments, as always! Hope things will settle down soon…

Puppy play-date at dusk

Last week, we had a bunch of young ‘uns come over to romp: Howie and Fiona joined Pyrrha and Trina for an early evening play session.

(It was getting dark, and I am still a bad photographer, hence all of the blurry photos. These are the best ones I got, seriously.)

Blurry puppy play-date
Meet and greet.

Pyrrha, at 2 years of age, was the oldest dog in the pack, and so there was lots of fun, floppy puppy energy!

Blurry puppy play-date

Trina was a little nervous about everyone at first, but after about 5 minutes, she warmed right up. Howie and Trina particularly seemed to enjoy each other, and Pyrrha was obsessed with Fiona. It’s funny to me how they kind of pick their “favorites.”

Blurry puppy play-date
Sharing the water bowl.
Blurry puppy play-date
Sallie goes with the puppy who matches her hair color.

Despite my poor photography skills, I think everyone had a great, tiring romp. Nothing better than an exhausted little shark (cough, cough, TRINA).

We’d love to have this bunch of puppies over again soon!

Blurry puppy play-date

Play-date with Fiona the puppy

This past weekend, Pyrrha got to have a play-date with a new friend: Fiona the puppy!

Play-date with Fiona
Fiona!

Our good friends Chris and Sallie recently adopted Fiona, and she is a bundle of joy. Fiona, who is probably about 6 months old, was found wandering alone as a stray about two months ago, in the countryside near our town, and Sallie’s friend picked her up and took care of her for a few weeks.

Fiona’s background is anyone’s guess, but the interesting fact is that she was found wandering near a farm that breeds Rhodesian ridgebacks. She’s obviously too tiny (about 15 lbs.) to be a full ridgeback, but her coloring is very interesting, no?

Rhodesian ridgeback. Source: Wikimedia Commons.
Play-date with Fiona
Fiona in the backyard.

Although she doesn’t have the hair growing backward up her spine, she does have hackles that extend all the way from her shoulder blades to the base of her tail. Regardless, whatever she is, she sure is CUTE!

The girls had a great time together, as you can see.

Play-date with Fiona

Play-date with Fiona
Love these faces!

Fiona’s personality and play style reminded me a lot of Georgia’s, which is, I’m sure, part of the reason why Pyrrha got along with her so well.

We brought Draco out to meet her, but he seemed fairly uninterested in the play-date. He sniffed her a few times, and then he asked to go back inside. Ha! Never had a dog opt out of a play-date before, but I’m totally cool with that. We let him go inside and relax.

Play-date with FionaWe hope to have Fiona over again soon! I’ve already been thinking about good personality mixes for future play-dates. I think Fiona and Pyrrha would be great with Howie and Roland