Ready for a spring weekend

The pretty little psychopath. #germanshepherd

Dog life updates:

  • Eden health update: The results of her blood work came back, and she does NOT have EPI! Hallelujah! But she DOES have a pretty serious case of giardia. So, clouds, but silver lining, because it’s not a debilitating lifelong condition. But giardia can be pretty tricky and resistant. She may have been harboring this since we adopted her, and the signs only recently became apparent to us. She’s on a treatment plan now, so here’s to hoping that her GI issues clear up and that she starts packing on the pounds! Eden will be 9 months old this weekend, and she should weigh about 55-60 lbs. She currently weighs 45 lbs. So, a lot to accomplish.
  • On the brighter side, my in-laws and their pup Georgia are coming to visit for the weekend! Pyrrha and Georgia are great pals, but this will be Eden’s first time meeting her puppy “aunt.” If Edie doesn’t terrify Georgia, I think they will all be fast friends.
  • We’ve been continuing with our new walking strategy to reduce reactivity. Guion now walks Pyrrha, and I take the lead with Eden. It’s been going very well, and I think Pyrrha is making improvement. I’m more relaxed on walks, and Pyrrha is also forming a stronger bond with Guion (listening to him, taking treats from him, following his lead, etc.).
  • Regarding the garden: The dogs have been respecting the wire barriers around the forsythia and blackberries, and we are going to plant two apple trees in the yard this weekend. I am also feeling increasingly eager to build a hedge/visual barrier along that side of the fence. The numerous boy children are increasingly distracting to the dogs. AND I came out the other day to find one of the neighbor boys pointing a slingshot at Pyrrha while she was barking. OMG. I yelled at him, “EXCUSE ME??” And he dropped it and ran. So, yes. I am getting increasingly nervous, both about our dogs’ safety and Pyrrha’s ability to handle the stimulation/stress. So building a hedge is a top priority.

Happy Friday to you all! What’s been going on in your households lately?

Level of sagacity

Marlon Brando with family dog, Illinois, early 1950s.
Marlon Brando with a family dog in Illinois, early 1950s.

“The dog has seldom been successful in pulling man up to its level of sagacity, but man has frequently dragged the dog down to his.”

— James Thurber

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

How sage is your dog? I’d say that Pyrrha has a fair level of internal sagacity, but Eden’s sagacity levels likely dip around zero. I saw a post somewhere this past week arguing that German shepherds, especially working-line GSDs, have the most hellish adolescent periods of maybe any other breed. I BELIEVE IT. Although I’d put my money on a malinois or a kelpie… But yeah. I sometimes feel like Eden is never going to grow up and is going to live out the rest of her life keeping us in a state of terror.

Speaking of Eden, I’m in a middling state of panic about her health and how underweight she is. But I need to be patient and wait to see how she reacts to these antibiotic/probiotic treatments. It feels hard to keep calm.

(Sidenote: Whew, young Marlon Brando. What a beautiful asshole. I still feel so good about naming our first foster Brando. It fit him perfectly, and his new family decided to keep the name!)

Any fun weekend plans? We are on hands and knees, prayerfully begging for SPRING! And for the yard to dry up, at least for a few days… Have mercy on us!

Poem: “Spring,” by Mary Oliver

Lounging dogs
Rainer and Pyrrha in the yard.

Spring
By Mary Oliver

I lift my face to the pale flowers
of the rain. They’re soft as linen,
clean as holy water. Meanwhile
my dog runs off, noses down packed leaves
into damp, mysterious tunnels.
He says the smells are rising now
stiff and lively; he says the beasts
are waking up now full of oil,
sleep sweat, tag-ends of dreams. The rain
rubs its shining hands all over me.
My dog returns and barks fiercely, he says
each secret body is the richest advisor,
deep in the black earth such fuming
nuggets of joy!

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

So it really feels more like summer here these days, but I love this poem from Mary Oliver, about a spring walk with her dog, and the simple delight that dogs take in the little things.

Hope you all have peaceful weekends!

Spring and a leash reactivity update

Spring has FINALLY arrived, and we’re enjoying a lot more time outside: taking long walks, playing in the backyard, having dog friends over to romp.

Spring

Still no word on our next foster, but we’ve truthfully enjoyed the break. It’s nice to have a few weeks off, with our normal routine and our low-maintenance dog. That being said, I am excited about our next foster, whoever it will be! (Selfishly, I’m hoping for a young adult who would be a good playmate for Pyrrha… She loves having other dogs around, particularly ones she can wrestle with.)

Tulips
Tulips in the backyard.

Update on her new leash-reactive behavior

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m keeping an eye on her behavior on walks. The interesting thing is that her aggressive displays are not consistent. On some walks, she’s totally fine; happily wags her tail at dogs that pass and seems like her “normal” self. But on other occasions, she shows this new fear/aggression display (barking, lunging).

There are consistent factors to her leash reactivity, however. She will react badly if: a.) we’re walking with another dog, especially a puppy, or b.) we’re walking solo, but the passing dog barks at her. If the passing dog just looks at her or wags its tail, she’s fine; no reaction. But she suddenly feels like she needs to respond in-kind if the dog lunges or barks at her.

Stick patrol

I definitely want to manage this behavior before it becomes consistent (i.e., she responds with an aggressive display to every dog that passes us, not just the barking/lunging ones).

Do you have a leash reactive dog? What have you done to help mitigate this behavior?