Learning to love her human dad

Guion and Pyrrha
Guion and Pyrrha at Yappy Hour.

Pyrrha has made a lot of progress with Guion lately. For the first few weeks, she seemed very nervous around him; she’d watch him like a hawk whenever he was in the same room with her. As the third week rolled around, we both were somewhat dismayed that she hadn’t warmed up to him yet. He wasn’t going anywhere, after all, and probably spent more time with her during the day than I did.

Her obvious preference for me made me feel pretty guilty. After all, I was the one who was really begging for a dog, and then we get a dog who barely gives my tolerant husband a second glance? I felt awful. She was all wiggles and wags and smiles whenever I walked in the door; Guion got a sideways glance and a slinking posture that moved her into the next room.

Love
Love.

Last week, we started pairing Guion with her most high-value treat, dried liver jerky (or something like that; a gift from our neighbor). Guion was the only one who was allowed to give it to her. That worked like a charm; she started to follow him from room to room, but this time out of a spirit of eagerness instead of watchful anxiety. He feeds her whenever he is home with her and gives her lots of gentle attention and affection.

The other night felt like a breakthrough, too: We were out in the backyard and she was in one of her crazy, playful moods. She normally invites only me to play with her; she’d never initiated play with Guion before, but on this particular night, she wiggled right up to him, gave him a play bow, and started dancing around him. Guion and I were both overjoyed. Soon they were both on the grass, wrestling around and playing Pyrrha’s version of fetch (which involves the human throwing an object, Pyrrha chasing said object, and then Pyrrha returning to human without said object). She played with him in that rough, goofy style that I’ve seen her do with other shepherds–lots of teeth, lots of tongue lolling about. (She even snuck up behind him and gave him a play bite on the back of his neck. He let out a yelp, which was sufficient correction. But then she just came back for more.)

She still has some warming up to do with him, but I feel like we’re already making great strides.

Did your dog need any help warming up to a particular family member? What did you do to help him or her feel comfortable with this person?

Birthday presents

My friends and family know me very well. For my birthday this past weekend, I was showered with lots of fun, new swag for the future dog:

Birthday presents.

Liz (Bo’s mama) gave me a cornucopia of wonderful dog things: The Kong toy I’m calling the “octo-bunny,” on your left, which she says has lasted the longest of any of Bo’s chew toys; the bag dispenser which is discreet and just what I would have picked out myself; the Kong Extreme, able to withstand the most devoted chewer; and the cute PetCo tennis ball.

My dear friend Eva gave me the gift card to PetSmart, which I will definitely put to good use very soon, and the dog breed handbook. We’ve both been dog nerds since childhood and spent a lot of the 10-miler together pointing out and identifying dog breeds together. Along with a lot of mutts, we successfully identified a pair of Clumber spaniels and a Gordon setter around miles 5 and 6. Such geeks.

And then my husband gave me that beautiful leather leash from All K-9, which was recommended to me by Jen from The Elka Almanac!

I am particularly excited about the leash:

Leather leash.

Jen, you’re right, it already feels soft and broken-in and I get the feeling that it will last for a long time to come. I love the brass hardware and the brass ring on the handle. Can’t wait to put this–and all of the other goodies!–to good use for the future pup.

Establishing daily routine

This will be what our morning walks look like. Right? Click for source.

As the days creep closer to our move, I’ve been thinking about how to restructure my day to accommodate a dog. I already worry about giving my dog enough time. A dog’s ideal human is someone who works out of the home, or better yet, someone who just lives there with them all day long and doesn’t do anything but walk, train, and love on said dog. This is a nice idea, but I don’t know anyone who has that kind of life.

I have a full-time job, but here are some things that I think are in my favor, with regard to scheduling and bringing a dog into our lives:

  • My office is a 6-minute drive from our new house.
  • My husband is a grad student and so his schedule is much more flexible than mine, meaning that he can often be home when I can’t.
  • I have a very dog-friendly boss, who has already said she’ll let me come home for an hour at lunch each day to walk the dog.
  • I’ll be done with work right at 5 p.m. and I never have to work late.

That said, I’m thinking a lot about our mornings. I have to be at work at 8 a.m., so my mornings start fairly early. Here’s the rudimentary schedule in my mind, on days that I don’t shower:

  • 6 a.m. Wake up. Take dog on walk.
  • 6:40 a.m. Feed dog/get self dressed
  • 7 a.m. Pack lunch for self/eat breakfast
  • 7:30 a.m. Play with dog/brief training or grooming/let dog out once more
  • 7:50 a.m. In the car and off to work

Clearly, this is something that will have to be finessed once we actually bring a dog home and evaluate his or her needs, but I like to think about it now. It’s a weird form of daydreaming for my highly Type A personality.

What does your daily routine look like with your dog? I’m especially interested in hearing from those who also have full-time jobs. How do you manage it? Any recommendations?

Review: Dogs Never Lie about Love

Dogs Never Lie about Love.

In his own good-natured way, my husband, Guion, likes to make fun of my obsession with dogs, including my ferocious appetite for dog books. He especially likes to tease me about the goofy names that dog writers often give their books. Dogs Never Lie about Love is certainly up there as far as cheesy, sappy titles go. (Guion also made a lot of fun of the title Bones Would Rain from the Sky, which is totally fair, but I actually loved that book.) I was reading this book while killing time before a wedding and I made sure to hide the spine and cover from any passersby, to save myself from any outright judgment, looks of concern, and the like.

Goofy title aside, this book reminds me of Stanley Coren’s work and the one Jon Katz book I read, as they can be categorized as “emotional quasi-science” books. Emotional quasi-science books like to sprinkle in lots of little studies and research among the body of heart-grabbing stories of canine wonder and relationships. They can tend to the gimmicky, but I admit that I like them just the same.

I am perfectly content reading a book in which Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson keeps describing the ways his three dogs interact with each other. In this way, I, the dog-less one, can live vicariously through Masson and his furry trio. (I told Guion that I would totally watch a reality TV show that just filmed dogs playing in their living rooms. No drama, no medical emergencies, no training nightmares. Just dogs being dogs. It would be the most boring and unprofitable television show ever, but *I* would watch it. Again, cue loving husband’s teasing laughter.)

That said, I don’t know if many people would actually enjoy this book–that is, people who were lucky enough to already have dogs of their own. I myself had already read about the majority of the research that Masson cites. The book is split into chapters that cover a dog’s basic emotions. And while I enjoyed this overview, I’m not sure if I learned anything new.

However, if you’re like me and you just like reading about the inner world of dogs, even if you’re not learning anything exciting or new, Dogs Never Lie about Love might be the book for you.