Lazy weekend

We enjoyed a relaxing weekend at home with our guest Caleb, an old friend of Guion’s.

Weekend with Caleb
Caleb and Pyrrha at dinner.

Mostly, because of the oppressive heat, we hid out indoors. Here, Pyrrha acts as the watchful apprentice while Guion attempts to make his first batch of cheese from raw milk:

Weekend with Caleb

We watched the boys play horseshoes in the front yard while a thunderstorm rolled in:

Weekend with Caleb

Pyrrha watches horseshoes

Weekend with Caleb

By the end of the weekend, Pyrrha had also warmed up to Caleb! (Just look at that relaxed face of hers.)

Being friends
Making friends.

Such a nice, peaceful, slow-paced weekend. Just what we needed!

The laziest of dogs

The laziest of dogs

This is Pyrrha’s typical posture on any given day — sprawled out on the living room floor. (She looks kind of fat from this vantage point, but I promise you she isn’t… I’m like a pageant mom about her portrayal in photographs.)

We had more delightful house guests this weekend, my dear friend Angela (whom you may recall from a play date with Bo and Zoe) and her boyfriend, Marshall. Pyrrha took to them both very readily. They are both gentle, quiet souls and those are always Pyr’s particular favorites. She kept trying to incite them to wrestle with her, though, by taking their limbs into her mouth. This is probably a habit we should work on with more diligence, because most people aren’t exactly fond of a German shepherd suddenly taking their fingers into her mouth and giving them a playful nibble.

In other Pyr news: Last month, we switched her over to a grain-free kibble, and maybe I’m just deluding myself, but I think we’ve already been seeing the benefits. Her coat is much glossier, her poops are smaller, and her enthusiasm is only enhanced for meal time (that thin line of drool while she sits and waits for the bowl). After I lauded the benefits of grain-free kibble for weeks, Guion finally agreed and thought it was worth the extra $10 a bag for the health advantages. So far, a very good choice.

Also, Pyrrha issued a protective bark for the first time! I’m kind of celebrating it a bit. To me, the fact that she feels protective of our house and yard tells me that she is feeling more confident and secure. This is reinforced by the fact that she has never barked protectively before. She’s barked in fear, to ward off a dog behind the adjacent fences, but this was a bark directed toward a far-off person in the street, which said, “Hey, I see you! This is my place!” It’s still a very uncommon occurrence — as she still doesn’t bark when she sits in our front window and watches people and cars pass — but I see it as a sign of her increasing confidence.

Hope you and your pooches are well and enjoying a pleasant start to your weeks.

Selective amnesia with male house guests

Pyr and Rosa
Pyrrha and my friend Rose.

Whether she likes it or not, Pyrrha is becoming a veritable veteran of hospitality. We’ve had a glut of house guests this fall (almost every weekend!) and Pyrrha has just learned to roll with it. This past weekend, our good friends Kemp and Rose came to stay with us. Thankfully, like most of our friends, they are great “dog people” and they quickly won her over.

She’s still not exactly Miss Casual when new people show up, but Pyrrha has made great strides in warming up and gaining confidence around strangers who stick around for a few nights.

One weird thing: She seems to have something of a short-term memory with overnight guests, especially if they’re men. After an hour, she will have warmed up to a new man and be willing to lick his feet, initiate play with him, etc. But the next morning, when he comes out of the bedroom, she acts like she’s never seen him before and runs away from him. (She’s occasionally done this with female house guests, too, but it’s a more common behavior with men.)

Any idea what this could mean? Does Pyrrha have a mild form of selective amnesia?

I know that she’s more scared of men in general, but I’m not entirely sure how to explain why she’d be scared of a man she was buddies with the night before. I guess it’s all about warming up gradually over time? She’s still, after all, working on her trust and confidence around Guion, and he’s been here with her from Day One.

Oh, well. Our sweet, weird dog.

Pyrrha handles a big party at our house

Party!

(I don’t have any photos, unfortunately, because being a hostess precludes one from being very active with a camera…)

Last night, we had about 25 people over to our house to celebrate Guion’s birthday. This was our first big party at our new house, and it was definitely the most people we’d ever had over in Pyrrha’s presence.

We have lots of visitors and weekend house guests, so Pyrrha is used to having strangers show up, but we’ve never had this many people descend at once. My initial plan was to keep her inside, especially if some of our friends brought their toddlers. (*Pyrrha has done well with children above the age of 5, but younger kids tend to make her pretty nervous. For the safety of all involved, I thought I’d keep her in the house.) However, no kids showed up, so I decided to let her go in the fenced yard with all of our guests.

At first, it was clear she was overwhelmed by all of these people. Thankfully, however, we have low-key friends (and a lot of dog lovers among them). Most people tended to leave her alone, or greet her calmly, which helped her a lot in warming up. After 10 minutes or so, Pyrrha started to chill out and kiss up to everyone. She started going around the circle of chairs and greeting each person (and then trying to lick their plates).

Tangent on shy dogs preferring women over men:

Throughout last night, it was clear that Pyrrha warmed up to women much faster than men. I think this may be generally true of shy dogs. One of our guests asked me why this was, whether she liked the smell of women more than men, etc.

My best theory is that there is a marked difference in male and female body language and in the way that men and women greet dogs. This is gender stereotyping, but in my experience, men tend to greet dogs more gregariously: Rougher pats on the head, grabbing toward the face, leaning over the dog, trying to incite them to rough-house, etc. Men also have deeper voice registers. In contrast, women tend to greet dogs in a slower, gentler manner: Holding out a hand for the dog to sniff, crouching down, speaking in a soft and high-pitched tone.

Some of Guion’s guy friends have teased him about the way he calls Pyrrha and greets her. He’s started mimicking my higher-pitched voice and slow, bending movements. It’s pretty adorable. “Oh, Guion, get out your ‘Pyrrha voice’!” They happily mocked him. And he does. In his defense, I heard him retort, “This is the way Abby calls her, and she loves Abby, so I thought I should try it!” It’s pretty cute, but she also responds to it! Acting like a lady may just get a shy dog to warm up to you faster…

Anyway. Have a nice weekend, all! Stay cool!

Pup links!

Red Aussie puppy. Click for source.

Great dog-related links from around the Web this week:

Dogs in the Workplace. Happy Bring Your Dog to Work day! While my office would frown on dogs in our space, I think Pyrrha would actually do pretty well here, particularly since I have a very quiet department. Did you bring your dog to work? Would you, if your office allowed it? (Pawsh magazine)

Travel 101: Prepping Your Pooch. I found this list of travel preparations from Vanessa–who recently made a cross-country move with her family and dog, Rufus–very helpful. I’m taking a 5-hour trip with Pyrrha in July to visit my parents and many of these tips were really helpful and insightful. Also: Doesn’t Rufus’ travel hammock look so cozy? Now that’s how I want to travel on my next road trip! (The Rufus Way)

No Party Zone. Do you avoid having house guests because of your reactive dog? Kristine shares some thoughts and a recent near-encounter with their future landlord. (Rescued Insanity)

Couldn’t Have Been a Lab; They Don’t Bite. Katie reflects on the dangerous precedent we set by breed stereotyping. Just because a dog is a lab doesn’t mean that it’s incapable of biting or showing aggression toward people. (Save the Pit Bull, Save the World)

Bye-bye, Cesar Millan. Animal rights advocate and professor Marc Bekoff celebrates the news that Cesar Millan’s TV show “The Dog Whisperer” is being cancelled. I for one am glad to hear it. What do you think about it? (The Hydrant)

Stay Away from “Stay” with Fearful Dogs. This is an interesting perspective from a dog trainer who believes that teaching a shy dog to “stay” could actually ratchet up their anxiety levels. Makes sense to me. I’ve been trying to teach it to Pyrrha, and it does actually make her way more nervous than other commands. Maybe we’ll get there eventually. (My Smart Puppy)

Ebon’s Training History. A sweet post charting the evolution of training for a dog over the course of his life. It’s interesting to think about how our dogs change with us as we grow up. (Musings of a Biologist and Dog Lover)

Lessons Learned from Dogs: Morgan and Kuster. Tales and Tails is doing a really sweet series on what she’s learned from her four dogs. Here are the stories from the two more difficult dogs of her pack, the German shepherds. Very heartwarming and well written. (Tales and Tails)

Innovative Ideas: Helping the Homeless and Shelter Dogs. Discussion of a program in San Francisco that would pair homeless youth with shelter dogs. Sounds like a really great idea; looking forward to hearing more about it. (The Bark blog)

Animal Love. Just some pretty, dreamy photos of animals collected by one of my favorite lifestyle/design bloggers. (Miss Moss)

Superdog Lova. Great, playful photographs of this high-energy spaniel. Very sweet. (Ulicam)