I’ve been busier than a Rat Terrier on a barn hunt! My Father-in-law has been shuttled back and forth between the nursing home and hospital twice this month and his sister and her niece (and young son) have (tearfully) gone back to Croatia. Enough drama to last the rest of the winter for sure. My Mother-in-law has had her first of a series of spinal injections that seem to be helping her pain somewhat. At this point we’ll take ANY improvement in that department. My Sister-in-law has gone back to CA. after spending the majority of the last two months on the east coast. She’s done an amazing job of getting Mom where she needed to be and helping her sort through all the options and decisions. Now that she’s gone the responsibility must be divided between two daughter-in-laws and three adult men. Fortunately, this is a family that (for the most part) knows how to work together to resolve problems. I guess that’s what happens when you own and operate a family business for almost 50 years. Those who can’t do family style decisions leave and the ones who stay get pretty good at making compromises. I think we’ll be fine, albeit a little stressed.
I’ve been sticking to my workout and dietary program and I’m happy to say I’ve lost a few pounds. I don’t want to lose a lot of weight, but I’m interested in making some changes to my body composition. I’m meeting with a personal trainer tomorrow to have a mobility and strength assessment, then we’ll sit down and talk about tweaks I can make to my program to address my thoracic back issues. After that I expect I’ll “check in” with her about once every six weeks or so, since I don’t need a PT to hold my hand through my workouts.
I’m trying to get more creative and enthused about cooking. I’m having mixed results. I still feel like I fall back on a steady repertoire of meal plans that I rotate through once every 7-10 days. If I had my way, I’d just eat the same things over and over again and be done with it. I’m so not a foodie! I broke down and replaced my 30 year-old food processor with a more efficient, but compact model. Boy, I remember when food processors first hit the market; they cost an arm and a leg! Now you can buy a very nice unit that has all the bells and whistles for under $100.
I’m also in the process of cleaning out my filing cabinets. I don’t know why we think we have to save so much paperwork, but it’s time to unload. Next I’ll tackle the closets, but one thing at a time. This is going to be my year to pare back and “clean house,” both figuratively and literally.
Overall, the last couple of years have been horrible … some of the worst I can remember. So I’m blowing a raspberry at 2012 and movin’ on. I’m looking forward to new and better things; it’s time the winds of change bring something good this way.
This picture was taken when Gus was just a hair over three months old. He’s six months old now, and starting to fill out and mature into the handsome boy he’ll become. His personality is engaging and when paired with his winsome smile and good looks, it’s the icing on this little pupcake. Gus is smart, tenacious, witty and forgiving. Unfortunately his housemates are not always that thrilled to have this happy, zoomy bundle of fun around and to his credit, when they slip into to their police act Gus goes along with their nonsense. Yes, you’re big and mean and tough … wanna play tug? Wanna chase me? Wanna look for deer poop together? It would take a lot to crush this sweet little boy’s joyful soul. I adore his happy energy and loving temperament; it’s a welcome change from the stern, serious working dogs I’ve had the last fifteen years. Not that Gus is any slouch. He’s not. But he’s a master at letting things go and easily flips from the tenacious hunter into the wiggly snuggler in the blink of an eye.
I couldn’t have picked a worse time to get a puppy. Going against my better judgement, I got Gus knowing full well that I had a long weekend away planned less than a month later. Fortunately, my sister-in-law was kind enough to volunteer to puppy-sit and I was able to get away without having to worry about boarding a very young, somewhat timid little boy. We survived that hurdle, but the weekend after we returned home my older sister was in a terrible motorcycle accident. And during all this I was still struggling to get by with badly impaired vision and upcoming (additional) corrective eye surgery.
We soldiered on. I somehow managed to get Gus to a local puppy kindergarten class. Unable to drive very far or drive after dusk, this class was scheduled for early evening and conveniently close by. I took Gus out for several meet-and-greet visits where we’d sit outside the town library or post office and strangers would pet my puppy and offer him a tasty treat. Slowly, Gus outgrew his timidity of unfamiliar places and people and learned to enjoy riding quietly in the car.
The best thing about Gus is that he’s not a particularly stern or serious dog unless he’s hunting. It’s only then that you can see an intensity and demeanor transformation that’s true to his breed. The second best thing about Gus (and it runs a close second!) is that he’s QUIET. So far Gus isn’t prone to barking or making excessive noise, which, after living with a dog who loves the sound of his own voice, is a godsend! I look forward to watching this young boy grow and mature into a young adult. We still have the terrible “tweens” to navigate, but I’m thinking this little guy will come through that unscathed. Time will tell!
Gus gives me one of his golden-eyed stares from across the yard. He’s growing up fast!
It’s been an interesting week and a half with Gus. Let me start by admitting it’s been eight years since I’ve had a puppy and I’m quickly being reminded how much work, but how much fun they are. I’m eight years older too, which means I have a lot more patience, but my energy can run a bit low at times. In all fairness I also have two very energetic herding dogs, so there is little time for idleness.
Gus has been doing great with most things; he’s adapted well to our household routine and rhythms and we’ve made a few adjustments to accommodate his puppy needs. Gus is quickly learning how to accompany the adult dogs and I as we do our daily outside chores. Right now that mostly entails some sort of garden or yard work, which Gus either gets totally into the thick of, or plays nearby. He’s entertained me with his goofy puppy antics and I have the mindset that no matter what kind havoc he wreaks, my gardens are dispensable at this point. I have a huge Siberian Iris garden that has a dozen or more large clumps of long, leafy foliage and Gus just loves running around in that. It’s like a giant puppy maze and he all but disappears as he zooms around the clumps in a mad frenzy. Every few laps Gus pops out of the flower bed and zips over where I’m weeding or watering the vegetable garden, then dashes off again to get lost in the Iris maze.
I love how this puppy entertains himself. None of my Cattle Dogs ever played by themselves or with each other and have always required my input to expend energy. Not Gus! This silly boy will play with his toys or look for something to do on his own, yet he’s no so aloof that he ignores you. Gus likes to be in your eyesight if possible, but he’s content to go play in the living room while I fix dinner. He especially loves his toys, which is another thing my ACDs were never that keen about. Oh sure, they like anything that squeaks (and still do), but only for as long as it takes to de-squeak the toy, which is about five minutes. At ten or twelve weeks, my ACDs were power chewers, capable of destroying just about any toy you put in their path. Gus is less destructive at this age and while he definitely goes into “killer” mode with some toys, his main purpose doesn’t seem to be to annihilate everything he encounters.
Overall, Gus seems to have a nice temperament. I’ve never raised a Rat Terrier and I’m not sure what to expect at every stage, but I suspect he’s going through a bit of an adjustment and is a little bit fearful of strangers right now. Gus warms up to people quickly, but his initial reaction is one of alarm and wariness. So with that being a bit of a concern, our new #1 goal is to meet a stranger a day. Yesterday I cut up some hot dogs (a pretty high value treat right now) and we went to a local pet supply store where we could meet and greet some unfamiliar people. It didn’t take long before Gus was walking up to strangers on his own and looking for his treat. I was very pleased with that and we’ll be doing something of that nature daily to make sure he gets comfortable around different kinds of people. I’m home alone with him most of the time and so this is a really important thing to do. It’s not my nature to interact with strangers (yes, I tend to run a bit shy initially), but it’s necessary for his development. Ideally, I want Gus to be a dog who can handle …. no, who enjoys being around other people and dogs.
Housebreaking is going well as long as I keep Gus on a routine and stay one step ahead of him. I wouldn’t say he understands doing his business outside yet, but he’ll perform wonderfully if I just read him correctly and follow a schedule. He can be VERY stubborn if I try to encourage him out to his potty area and he doesn’t need to go. This boy knows what he does and doesn’t want and he makes that pretty clear! Likewise, crate training has gone pretty well. Gus seems content spending a part of every morning and some of the afternoon in his crate. I usually try to time his crate time with his nap, but not always. If he’s awake I usually give him a Kong stuffed with frozen peanut butter or something good to chew on to keep him occupied. The only time he really fusses is when we eat dinner. I’m not exactly sure how I’ll fix that, but we’ll figure it out.
This morning we slept in until almost seven. Well, I was semi-awake from 6 AM on, but I forced myself to stay in bed to see if Gus would wake up on our weekly time schedule or sleep in a bit longer. I finally decided to get out of bed when Neena started her usual, pushy, time-to-get-up yapping, and when I opened the bedroom door I was greeted by a wildly excited, uncrated puppy. Oh dear! Yes, Mr. Gus escaped from his crate. I suspect he was only on the lam a short while, but still. And yes it was my fault. I didn’t buy the most expensive crate and I’ve since discovered this crate needs a small clip fastened to the two doors to prevent them from being opened by an inquisitive puppy. Apparently last night I forgot to clip the side door. My bad! That won’t happen again!
My adult dogs are doing OK with Gus. Not perfect, but OK. The most difficult time is when Gus wants to play with them or play with a squeaky toy. Squeakers are put in toys to grab the dog’s attention. Unfortunately, that means they grab the attention of any dog that’s within hearing range of the toy. And being ACDs, my dogs become totally fixated on that sound. Hazer, especially. Hazer also has trouble understanding why he can’t have access to Gus’s toy box and will stand and whine at it (and me) for hours. Literally, for hours. Ug. He’s worse than the puppy sometimes. OK, most of the time. Poor Hazer. So far neither ACD has come down too heavy on the puppy for anything. That’s good! I’m on them like a hawk whenever they’re all together, especially inside. The ACDs don’t have much access to Gus (yet) when we’re inside because Gus doesn’t understand things like, “Leave it” and, ‘That’ll do.” When Gus has better self control (LOL) I’ll start letting the dogs have more togetherness, but for now unless Gus is asleep they’re not together much indoors.
Today Gus and I are going to a small family picnic. I’m a bit nervous because two family members who will be attending have small dogs. One is a female RT/ Chihuahua rescue, the other is a male Chihuahua. The female is a bit older than the male and has manners, but the last time I saw the male (a year or so ago) he was not very well trained. Word has it he’s much improved, but still. Needless to say, I’ll be very cautious. I’m taking Gus because in the future my sister-in-law will (hopefully) be a good candidate to pet sit him on occasion. Today should be a good opportunity to let Gus meet her and little Angie under my supervision. Yeah, I’m a Nazi mom. I’m hoping this visit goes well because if it does it would kill two birds with one stone: it would allow me peace of mind if/when I go away and it will satisfy her puppy craving!
Well, the beast is awake …. time to take a hike!
Call me crazy, but we’ve got a new family member in our midst. This is an adjustment for our household and to add to the confusion, we’ve jumped breeds too. Perhaps that wouldn’t faze some people, but I’ve been living with ACDs for so long now that I’ve forgotten what it’s like to raise a different type of puppy. But this pup’s breed was a big part of my decision to make the switch and I’m happy to say I’m looking forward to learning what makes this cute little package tick.
His name is Gus. Well, his registered name (That’s right, he’s not a rescue or an adoption. Spare me the lectures, please; I have a rescue dog too.) will be Warren Mountain’s Knight’s Tale. I tinkered with the idea of calling him Tallie for short, but it was just too cutesy for me. “Gus” seems to fit him. He’s not a foo-foo boy by any means and I’m not raising him to be one either. In fact, I got him to hunt vermin on our farm. We’ve been over run by chipmunks since my barn cat died five years ago. I know replacing the cat with another would probably seem like the logical thing to do, but I have a long list of reasons why I’d rather not go that route. I’d hoped we would acquire another cat the same way we got Mac: he just showed up here one day. I knew the minute I went out and adopted a cat or kitten three more would suddenly appear on my doorstep the next week. So I waited and waited and I guess I waited too long. Now my adult dogs are past the point where a cat or kitten would have a fighting chance of surviving their onslaught. And I’m not going to lose a cat to a coyote … that’s just too heartbreaking for me to bear. So I hoping the answer will lie with Gus.
Rat Terriers have vermin hunting in their genes and they tend to be great farm dogs. They have a lot of energy and intensity, but they also have an “off” button and know how to enjoy a good snuggle too. This boy’s temperament is much softer than any of my ACD puppies were at his age. He’s smart but sensitive and because his hunting instincts make him quick to react to motion and sound, I have to slow things W-A-Y down for him. I admit, that’s a challenge for me sometimes! In some ways Gus reminds me of an Arabian Horse: quick and smart, but very sensitive. But being sensitive doesn’t mean he’s a pushover. He has a lot of tenacity, intensity and …. well, GUSto! I know he’s my first Rattie and I probably don’t know squat yet, but I think his temperament is very nice! I can tell he’s a quick study. Name recognition took no time at all and he’s doing very well with basic commands and walking on a lead.
Before Gus arrived I replaced a bunch of our ACD destroyed toys and bought several more that were a scaled down version of what I have for the adult dogs. Naturally, Gus is infatuated with Hazer’s Frisbee, which now has a hole in the center that makes it easy for him to pick up. Right now just about anything is fair game for him to try to steal and play with, but he likes the Frisbee so much that I’m going to have to buy Hazer a new one and let Gus have the old one. (I was going to get a new one anyway … the hole wrecks it for throwing long distance) The trick to avoiding squabbles is to have multiples of the things they like. That way everyone can be happy. I also noticed that Gus likes to grab the Frisbee and bring it over to me, so I’m marking that behavior and working it into our training. Hazer is a fantastic Frisbee player and I’d love to have Gus grow into one too. (Neena is strictly a ball player; she never mastered looking up to follow the path of a Frisbee, but she’s killer quick with a ball!)
Of course, sometimes even the best toys can turn into a bit of a challenge!
Better size, but not nearly as much fun!