A successful first trip with the dogs

On the heels of my post about the dynamics between our two girls, I am happy to report that we had a successful first road trip with both of them.

They were both a little antsy about being in the back seat of our little hatchback, but eventually they settled down and were able to sleep. Finally, THIS even happened, which blew my mind:

2 shepherds in a tiny car.

Pyrrha is very touchy about her personal space, so I was kind of amazed that she let Eden do this. It’s also really adorable.

Family weekend
Dad and Eden interacting, as my sister Grace watches.

EDEN REPORT: My dad is in love with Eden, and the two of them were inseparable the whole weekend. He essentially took care of her the entire time we were there; it was amazing! Every morning, they went for a run together or went rollerblading around town, and then in the afternoons, he played Frisbee with her and Dublin. (I shouldn’t have been worried about how Dublin and Eden would interact; Dublin is a champ, and she gets along with everyone.) Because of this, Eden had a rather hard time calming down indoors, because she was following Dad around the entire time, waiting for him to go outside and play with her.

PYRRHA REPORT: Pyrrha seems really comfortable at my parents’ house now, which is so encouraging to see. My immediate and extended family showed up at various points over the weekend, and we had a noisy house full of nearly 15 people. But Pyrrha just took it all in stride. Just about everyone came up to me to say how impressed they were with how much she’d calmed down and how easygoing she seemed. It always warms my heart. It’s hard for me, being so close to her, to actually recognize her progress, so it’s encouraging to hear it from people who don’t see her every day and can track how she’s grown in confidence and calmness.

Here she is getting some love from my cousin:

Family weekend

On Saturday morning, Guion and I walked Pyrrha to the farmers’ market and Dad rollerbladed there with Eden. We kept Pyrrha on the periphery of the event, because there were a lot of people, dogs, and children, but she was admirably composed. She even met a little girl who was specifically afraid of German shepherds and quietly and calmly licked her hand. She had just one outburst, toward a maltese on a retractable leash (ugh, bane of my existence), which was my fault for not getting away quickly enough. It’s hard to get away when those dogs are on those idiotic leashes! But, in the wider scheme of things, I was proud of how she handled all of the dogs and little kids. (Edie continues to be untroubled by crowds, kids, and other dogs, which we are perpetually grateful for.)

Family weekend

Overall, it was a good excursion to bring both girls to my parents’ house, as my parents will be watching them for three days at the end of this month while Guion and I are at a wedding. Fingers crossed that they have another good experience with our crazies!

First road trip with both dogs

Guarding me in the bedroom
Bedroom guardians.

Today, we’re gearing up for a new adventure: Our first road trip with both dogs!

I’m a little anxious, to say the least. It’s a 4.5-hour drive, one way. We’re attending the wedding of a family friend and will be staying with my parents. Both dogs love my parents, so they’ll be happy to be with them, and this will be Eden’s first visit, and her first time meeting Dublin.

They’ve taken short trips together in the back seat of our little hatchback and did fine, but they are big dogs, and they take up all of the space (not to mention our luggage and their crates).

The worry factors: Pyrrha doesn’t like to cuddle or share space with other dogs. Pyrrha likes to stretch out and sleep in the back seat on car trips. Which she, clearly, will no longer be able to do.

The good/reality factors: They are both very good and quiet in the car (no car sickness, no frantic energy). And we don’t really have another option! So we’ll see how it goes. I’m sure we’ll be taking many more stops than we usually do, so they can stretch their (cramped) legs.

How do you travel on the road with your dog(s)? Anything that you’ve found that makes it more bearable with two?

A Thanksgiving trip with Pyrrha

Bored with this

This week, Pyrrha will be taking her first visit to her other “grandparents,” my husband’s mom and dad. They were here the first few days we had Pyrrha, when she was still a nervous wreck, so I am excited to have them meet her again and see such a different dog. Yes, she still has her fair share of fears, but I think she’s transformed significantly since they last saw her.

My in-laws are great dog people and they have recently had a rotating door of foster puppies and dogs for their local lab rescue. Their most recent foster just got adopted out this week, so Pyrrha most likely won’t have a canine playmate over the holiday, but she will be lavished with lots of attention and peaceful walks around their pleasant, wooded neighborhood.

In the spirit of the holiday, here are some things I am thankful for, with regard to Pyrrha:

  • I am thankful for Pyrrha’s sweet and gentle spirit, for the fact that I have never seen her display aggression, even when she is faced with one of her fears. She shows a lot of self-discipline that I don’t think even I would be able to exhibit in her condition.
  • I am thankful for her growing relationship with Guion.
  • I am thankful for how content she is to be in her crate when we are gone, that she has not shown any signs of separation anxiety.
  • I am thankful for how well she gets along with other dogs now, something that I really didn’t expect a few months ago.
  • I am thankful for her playfulness, for her vestiges of puppy energy (even when they can be frustrating!).
  • I am thankful for her quietness.
  • I am thankful for her growing ability to accept strangers, particularly men.
  • I am thankful that she now likes to cuddle with us on the couch, an activity that previously frightened her.
  • I am thankful that she is healthy and fit.
  • I am thankful for her considerable store of intelligence, even when it gets her into trouble.
  • I am thankful for how much she has grown since May. Every day gives me more hope for her progress in the future.

What are some things you are thankful for, regarding your own dog(s)?

Off for a wedding

Let me out

Pyrrha will be joining us on another road-trip to my parents’ home this weekend, this time for my sister’s wedding! It will be a crazy weekend, but we’ve stocked up with chew toys, bones, and other diversions for our pup. There are several things that make visits home more fun/comfortable for Pyr: 1) Dublin, her therapy dog, 2) My dad, who loves her, and 3) Her increasing familiarity with the place, as this will be her third visit.

We’ll be back on Monday, with stories and pictures, I’m sure. In the meantime, have a great week with your pups!

Pup links!

That’s a lot of shibas you’ve got there, sir. Source: Hei Astrid

Dog-related links from around the Web this past week:

Life with Two Shibas. What’s it like having two shibas in the house? A realistic and detailed portrayal of how to welcome that second dog into your home and how to create balance and stability thereafter. (Shio the Shiba)

Frisbee Discs for Dogs: What’s the Best Disc on the Market? While I have very far-fetched dreams about Pyrrha taking interest in a Frisbee, I still love watching dogs play with flying discs. Does your dog love to chase a Frisbee? Here’s an article with some reviews on the best discs for your dog. (Whole Dog Journal)

Heart Spaghetti. A discussion of the importance of heartworm preventatives, particularly during this time of year. (Couches for Breakfast)

Post-4th Puppy Extravaganza. Seriously, what could be better than the chaos of 15 German shepherd puppies tearing through one’s home?? (Blackthorn Kennels)

When Time Isn’t Enough. This is a very honest post from Vanessa about how Rufus still hasn’t warmed up to his human dad, even after two years. It made me wonder if Pyrrha will ever love Guion, but it was simultaneously encouraging to know I’m not the only one in this boat. All I can say is, Vanessa and I–and Rufus and Pyrrha!–are lucky to be tied to such patient, persistent men. (The Rufus Way)

Pawsitively Amazing: Smiley. An apt name for this golden retriever, who was born without eyes into a puppy mill environment. But he just radiates joy! The description of his relationship with his owner is supremely touching. (Daily Dog Tag)

Let’s Be Gentle, Not Judgmental. A very humble and encouraging post by one of the most popular foster mamas out there, about the myths she once believed about her dog and others’. Such a great exhortation for us to be more patient and gentle with those who may still have some things to learn about their canine companions. Because, really, who of us has all the answers? (Love and a Six-Foot Leash)

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

We’re out of town for another long weekend (another wedding and another road trip). This time, Pyrrha will be hanging behind with her angelic former foster and her pack. It’s the best form of doggy daycare for her and she always comes back to us very tired and happy. Hope you all have pleasant weekends!

A weekend with Pyrrha at my parents’ place

This past weekend, Pyrrha and I took our first road trip together, to visit my parents, see my siblings, and help my sister with her wedding plans. It was a five-hour drive and Pyrrha handled it like a champ. She slept for the majority of the trip in the back of our little hatchback (which is now coated in wall-to-wall fur). I was very proud, and knowing she was peacefully dozing made me a lot less anxious.

Here are a few recaps of what Pyrrha did over the weekend:

Meeting the family

Pyrrha got to meet lots of family members this weekend, and she did great with everyone. In total, she met my sisters, my sister’s fiance, my grandparents, my aunt, uncle, cousin, the neighbors and the neighbor’s two young girls. Whew!

With TT in the kitchen
With my mom in the kitchen.
Kisses for Grace!
Kisses for Grace, my youngest sister.
Meeting Ma-Maw
Meeting my grandmother.
Kisses for Ma-Maw!
Kisses for her great-grandmother!
Floor time with Juju
Floor time with my dad.
Morning meditation with Alex
Floor time with my sister’s fiance.

A few observations: She still warms up to women much faster than she does to men, but after she’d met everyone, she seemed to treat the family with an equal mix of tolerance and occasional anxiety. She became especially fond of my mom. My guess here is that my mom’s body and body language very closely mirrors mine, and I think this makes her feel safe and comfortable. Pyrrha’s other family favorites turned out to be my dad (who speaks dog fluently and loves dogs as much as I do), my mom, and my sister’s fiance, Alex (shown in the last photo). Alex is calm and quiet and has been around German shepherds before. I like to believe that Pyrrha sensed this.

Dublin, Pyrrha’s therapy dog

One of the most encouraging parts of our weekend away was Pyrrha’s interaction with Dublin, the neighbor’s chocolate lab mix, who acts as my father’s surrogate dog.

Romping with Dublin
Dublin, Pyrrha’s therapy dog.

I wasn’t sure if they would get along at all. Dublin reacts somewhat negatively to new dogs in her territory, especially new female dogs. Add that with Pyrrha’s anxiety about new dogs, and I suspected they wouldn’t be able to interact at all.

So, this is just one more example of Pyrrha proving me wrong and exceeding my expectations. We let them sniff each other through the fence for a bit, and then we let Pyrrha into Dublin’s yard, off leash. All of us humans stayed outside the fence.

Nice calming signals, girls.

Within a minute, after the preliminary sniffs and some tail-tucking from Pyrrha, the two were romping like old friends. It was so heartwarming.

Romping with Dublin
Play time!
Romping with Dublin
Going for the face!

Pyrrha just fell in LOVE with Dublin. (I also couldn’t help but wonder if it had something to do with the fact that Dublin very closely resembles Camden, in color and build.) They spent most of their weekend together and I think Dublin really helped build Pyrrha’s confidence. She was so happy and relaxed whenever Dublin was nearby.

Romping with Dublin
Pyrrha’s inciting posture. I love this photo. Look at that goofy face.
All tuckered out
All tuckered out.

The farmer’s market

On Saturday morning, we took Dublin and Pyrrha with us to the farmer’s market. It was a fairly busy and overwhelming crowd, but Pyrrha handled it like a champ. Again, I think it helped her so much that Dublin was right next to her and was taking it all in with such calmness and apparent lack of concern.

Pyrrha met lots of dogs that morning and didn’t show any signs of extreme fear. I was so proud! I think holding her leash very loosely has improved these interactions tremendously, not to mention that I’m so much calmer about dog-to-dog interactions now.

We were even ambushed by a stray dog on our way over there. It was a rangy-looking basenji-esque mix without any leash or collar. We attempted to throw a leash around his neck, but he growled at us when we approached. He was very friendly to Dublin and Pyrrha, though. Not sure what will happen to that little guy, but I hope he finds a safe place. He seemed very self-sufficient and confident about town, though.

At the lake with Dublin

On Saturday evening, we took the dogs on a brief hike around the lake. Dublin, true to her retriever heritage, LOVES the water and loves retrieving anything you throw into it. Pyrrha, as we’ve learned, is decently scared of water. But after she watched Dublin diving in, she even waded in herself. She freaked out when she went too far and could no longer stand, but she very eagerly waded. Which I take as progress.

Dad and I with Pyrrha and Dublin at the lake. Photo by Grace Farson.
Pyrrha watches Dublin go for the ball. Photo by Grace Farson.

My sister Grace took great photos from that outing, and I recommend her recap! (I also have a new profile picture for this blog, which Grace took. I think it’s a nice one of both of us.)

We’re headed back to my parent’s in a month, and I think Pyrrha will be eager to come again.

I think I like it here
I think I like it here.

Pup links!

Mmm, cherry blossoms. Click for source.

Dog-related links from around the web this past week:

Friendship. Does your dog know that you love her? A thoughtful post on our relationships with our dogs. (Denise Fenzi)

Dog Scribbles. Fun, quirky doodles of dogs from one of my favorite bloggers/artists. (Ulicam)

Things I Can’t Live Without #6: Rolled Leather Collar. Do any of you use a rolled leather collar? I’ve never heard of the notion that regular, flat collars can damage the guard hairs/fur around the neck, but now I’m curious… (Batmanimal)

Thunder, Fireworks, and Noise, Oh My! An adult dog who has developed a thunderstorm phobia… How do you help them? Certainly caught my attention, because while Pyrrha isn’t bothered by storms or fireworks now, I wonder if she could be in the future? (Reactive Champion)

Focus: Riley and Lexi. Britt Croft is doing a series of photos on her two yellow labs, Riley and Lexi. I love these shoots and how often these dogs participate in mirroring behavior! They are hard to tell apart! (The Daily Dog Tag)

“Keen-see.” The sweet relationship between a toddler and her very tolerant bulldog, Kingsley. (Rockstar Diaries)

Foundation Fun. I don’t really know what these dogs are doing, but they are having so much FUN! I love it. (The Elite Forces of Fuzzy Destruction)

Catch O’ The Day. That is one BRAVE dog. I cannot believe he just plucked that awful-looking, gnarly fish out of the water. I am so impressed. And his expression looks like, “Eh, no big deal. I do this all the time.” (Wootube)

Bliss Paws Collapsible Travel Bowl. I like the look of these travel bowls (although I wonder how big they are?). I’m not overly thrilled with the ones we bought Pyrrha, as they’re crushable cloth and not nearly as waterproof as they advertised. Do you use a travel bowl that you like? (Dog Milk)

How to Make Car Rides with Dogs a Breeze. Helpful tips on car travel with dogs, which will be useful to me this weekend! (Go Pet Friendly)

Truckin’. More honest, helpful advice on taking a long road trip with one’s two beautiful, active Aussies. (Raising Ivy)

As you might have divined from those last three links, Pyrrha and I are taking our first road trip together tomorrow! We are driving the 5 hours together to my parents’ house, so I can help my sister with her wedding plans. Thankfully, Pyr rides very well in the car, but we’ve never taken her in the car for longer than 45 minutes, so this will certainly be an experience! I’m bringing lots of water and soothing music for both of us. Stories to come!