Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Progress of the Dog

Sally the Great Pyrenees Mountain Guard Dog is now, officially, four months old.
About 17 weeks, to be precise.
She is changing and maturing almost daily in small ways.

We are still working on her play biting.
She is doing better (better = less), and it is clear that she is trying to do better.
But my still-bloody/scared hands and wrists testify that she is failing to overcome her puppy habit.
Some days she does better than others, but it is clear that she understands that I do not like it and she tries to restrain her natural tendency.
Yet, she still bites me when she feels playful or excited.
Sally seems to do better at this in the mornings than in the evenings, I am not sure why.

Sally's progress on house training is spotty at best (sorry).
She can go days without an indoor transgression, then do (sorry) as she did the other evening and, as I was doing the dishes, produce a fresh, warm puddle on the kitchen floor, looking me right in the eye the whole time.
Of course she was banished to the back yard, which she seems to understand better than that she is not to eliminate in my house.
But if I am watchful, as I said, she can go several days in a row without a ill-placed deposit.

By far, Sally's favorite time is our walks together.
She has learned that they usually happen in the morning after we eat and I finish washing the dishes and brush my teeth (lest I forget).
I have a certain jacked that I wear in the cold weather, that she now recognizes as my walking uniform, and when I reach to put it on, she becomes excited.
My reach for the leash – which hangs on a screw in the back room wall – she becomes slightly more excited.
I always hook the leash to her collar when we are outside, and she can barely hold still enough to allow me to find the D-ring on her collar to attach the leash.
Then it is off down the driveway to sniff the surrounding territory.

While she tends to travel the same basic paths, she has in the last week or so, begun to travel new streets.
Some of them, I have never been on the whole time I have lived here.
Thanks to Sally, I have now.
And we have settled into a cooperative negotiation process in our walks.
She seems to like to pull me along a bit, especially at the beginning of a walking session.
Cesar would be disdainful of how she “drags” me around.
I don't care, really.
His theory of Pack Leader vs submissive/passive walking is not valid for all dogs, methinks.

Sally is almost always compliant with my modifications to her chosen path or items of interest.
As I have stated, these walking sessions are for the DOG, not the people.
So I let her have a good bit of leeway in where she goes.
I mainly control her so that she does not dart into the path of a car (which she occasionally will try), or wander too deeply into a neighbor's yard.

In addition to her neighborhood walks, we go almost once a week for a car trip.
These are short rides to either a small park about two miles from my house, or the local dog park, about three miles from my house.
Sally enjoys both places, but I think she likes the dog park the most because there are so many of her cousins there.

Sally is very sociable and submissive with the other dogs and very friendly with the people.
We are often complemented on how pretty/cute/fuzzy she is.
Some ask her breed, other seem to know, and as she grows/matures, her breed is becoming more evident to those who know breeds.
She can only stand about 30 minutes in the doggy park because she runs herself to exhaustion with the other dogs.
I can see, as she gallops about, when she begins to drag a bit.
I will probably see some day soon just how long she will go before she stops on her own volition.

This past Tuesday was a day off work for me, the weather was pleasant, so I decided to be brave and take Sally the Pyrenees Mountain Guard Dog to mountains for a short hike.
We drove to Bankhead Land Trust and hiked a short distance on one of the trails there.
I had a time constraint so we only traveled about a mile or so, which took almost an hour.
This was the second walk for Sally that day (we had already walked the neighborhood that morning), and it was the third walk for me (I had also done my 3 mile pre-dawn walk that morning).
We were both ready for a nap that afternoon.
I was a bit stiff and sore that evening.

But the net result of all of that was, when I took Sally out this morning for our usual neighborhood walk, she tried to get in the car.

To that issue, I have been pondering what I need to do to my car to better accommodate my increasingly big doggy.
While I like her to ride in my front passenger seat (covered with large towels), she is becoming so big that she just barely fits on it.
I may have to permanently assign her to the back seat, modified appropriately for her.
I may create some sort of wood platform to give her a more solid place to stand/sit/lay.
And, in spite of my efforts to cover my car interior, everything there is beginning to look like old flannel.
All of this is rocking along made possible by my current work schedule.
If I find another job (as I NEED to....) our walking, visiting schedule will have to be modified.

I feel a heavy weight of responsibility to my animal.
It is not fair to her to relegate her to my tiny back yard with no interaction for her with other dogs or people.
She is a social creature and needs regular communication or she will become a problem/destructive.
I dread that.

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