(So, not-so-wordless Wednesday, but a special feature…) My sister, photographer/filmmaker/general badass Grace Farson, took this photo while she was in Thailand this past summer. She writes:
Took this photo this summer in Thailand. Went swimming and turned around to find this little dude floating beside me. Just smiling and enjoying his day at the beach.
I love this; I also think I would totally freak out if I saw this little guy suddenly swim up beside me. I’m not sure I would even register that it was a dog at first. Dogs are hilarious. I love them. (It’s also pleasant to imagine swimming in Thailand right now, amid all this yucky wintry weather…)
Do Unto Others: Intimidation in Dog Training. A thoughtful post about the reciprocal relationship between aggression toward your dog fueling his aggression toward others. This just reminded me that we so often forget the impact of our body language and actions toward our dogs. If only more dog owners could read and know and believe this. (Love and a Six-Foot Leash)
A Lesson in Timing: The Tunnel’s End Nears. Ximena, as always, outdoes us with her seriously thoughtful and sincere approach to training–in particular, timing and how very important it is. Such a good reminder (and not to mention intimidating)! I have already learned, from our first weeks in class, that I am NOT good at timing and it’s really something I need to work on. (Identity: V+E)
10 Top Dog Training Tips You Can Use Every Day. Great, practical reminders from Pamela to improve our day-to-day training regimens. I particularly liked her reminders to incorporate training elements (treats, rewards, other motivators) around the house, so you can’t help but train throughout the day. (Something Wagging This Way Comes)
Fishing for German Shepherds. Jura sent me her lovely photos of this handsome German shepherd swimming in Hanoi. Gorgeous dog! It’s so interesting to see how dogs live around the world. Thanks again for sharing, Jura! (Hound in Hanoi)
Facebook Pup Learns to Herd. Mark Zuckerberg’s puli, Beast, attends his first herding lesson and you can see the photos on Facebook, of course. (The Bark blog)
SilhouPETte Charm Necklaces. I’m not really one to get into breed paraphrenalia/clothing, but I would totally wear one of these pretty necklaces with Pyrrha’s profile. Would you? (Pretty Fluffy)
Dog Shaming. Despite the sound of the name, this is my new favorite dog-centric Tumblr: Photos of dogs with signs detailing their misdeeds. I can already think of a few signs I’d write for Pyrrha… (Dog Shaming)
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!
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.
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.
Within a minute, after the preliminary sniffs and some tail-tucking from Pyrrha, the two were romping like old friends. It was so heartwarming.
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.
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.