Sunday, January 29, 2012

Choosing a Puppy Food

We are not exactly sure what made Bella sick last week, but one of our theories is her food.

Before Bella came into our lives, I spent hours doing research online and reading magazine articles by world-renowned vets and experts on the big question today when it comes to dogs…

What do you feed your best friend?

BARF? (Biologically Appropriate Raw Food or Bones And Raw Food)


Wet Food?

Dry Food?


And then if you choose wet food or dry food…

What Brand?

Do you supplement with other food?

If you choose to supplement then…

Do you use vegetables?

Or just meat?

There is no clear answer. Even the experts and vets are split on their answers. This means you have to consider the pros and cons of each choice and weigh them with what you can afford to do and how much time you can spend.

The BARF diet: I really do not believe in the Raw food diet claims. I understand the pros but I feel it could be a “special occasion” diet. Plus I was more concern about the risk to Dave and I with the possibility of contamination to our food. We have a small kitchen and fridge and it worried me too much.

I looked into the Homemade diet a lot. I read books and I do think it would be the best choice but for one big problem. The vitamin and mineral loss potential. Vitamins and minerals need to be balanced in homemade diet. And this can be hard to do. I just didn’t think I could afford (time and money) to make several different types of meals. (One of the main points to the homemade diet is variety in the meals) Plus test them to measure the levels of vitamin and minerals and compare them to the levels needed for the age of your dog. And the age of the dog matters, and with one senior and one puppy it could mean making different meals for each of them daily.

Wet dog was an easy decision. No, because it can be bad for their teeth and they have to eat almost twice as much, since it is mostly water.

Vegetarian was also a no. Every dog I have ever had comes into the kitchen every time I make bacon and never when I am making green beans. So really they made that choice for me.

I am left with dry food. And I chose to supplement it with meat. Alternating between hard-boiled eggs, canned salmon and anchovies. But the question now is, what dry food? If you have been to a pet store lately and ventured into the dry food section you would see hundreds of choices.  Which one do I get?

And now we are down to my real problem. There are too many choices and not enough choices. You have to follow the first three ingredient rule, no corn, whole grains, protein percentage, fat percentage, type of protein, omega 3 and 6, and then the filler ingredients (i.e. tomato pomace or beet pulp). Plus I really would like to get a grain free food.

So when looking for Bella’s food, I had a hard time finding the one that I thought would be the best fit. In fact it took me almost a month after we brought her home. (We were feeding her Draco’s food, which is a totally different story). I decided on Fromm Gold Series Large Breed Puppy Food. And for the first bag, everything was peaches, she liked it, no gas, small stools (which is important) and small bites (kibble size).  And then when we got the second bag she started the “Poop Chronicles”. We thought it was the food. We returned it to Weber’s Pet Superstore and I was again presented with what should I do for Bella’s food.

Based on the friendly clerk’s suggestion, we got Regal Turkey and Rice Large Breed Puppy Food. It is not my first choice. I am in contact with a nice lady who works at Fromm who tested a sample of the lot number which our “tainted” bag was from, it was clear.

This is still a developing story and I will update you when we have made a decision.

I now know more about dog food, than I would like. So if anyone out there has a question, let me know.

Halfway Through the Semester

Earlier this evening we attended our third puppy training class. Judging by the attendance, we'll be the last one's standing. That's right, the same two who missed last week skipped out again and another one dropped out. We are now down to the German Shepard, the Corgi and of course Bella. The dogs got some play time in. Bella is definitely not scared to be around other dogs. In fact, all it seems she wants to do is attempt to engage them. The German Shepard, as previously stated, is very shy. She seemed to want to come out of her shell this evening but didn't quite know what to do. Bella seemed to be drawing something out of her, but then got a little bit too excited and caused the Shepard's owners to panic. As we separated the dogs and calmed them down, Bella peed on the floor. That's three classes, three accidents and two of them by our darling Bella.

After a review of the previous course, where we took our dogs through the store to practice "Loose Leash" walking, we sat down to learn this week's lesson which included "Leave It," "Take It," and "Drop It." "Leave It" was easy. Chassie taught Bella that at least two weeks ago. She performed extremely well at that task which segued into "Take it." We would tell her to leave it and then give her the command to go ahead. After three or four of these exercises, she knew that we wanted her to wait before she got the treat. Then we got to "Drop It." She got a new toy and was done playing with it by the time the instructor had finished the lesson. When we got to practice the lesson, Bella was tired of the toy and wouldn't hold it for very long. To her defense, the toy wasn't that appealing, if I was given it I'd probably give it back in a few minutes as well.

Again, Bella excelled in the skill asset of the class. I still think she needs work on the socialization part of school. To anthropomorphize again, she seems to be the extrovert that really puts the effort into introducing herself and making everyone like her. Ask Chassie if that's the way extroverts operate, I wouldn't know personally. I only call it like I see it.

So here we are three weeks into the course. After the first class, I may have dropped out like our other compadres. However, I know how important the Canine Good Citizen is to Chassie. So we forged on. The second class was beneficial. The "Loose Leash" walking, while it's still not "loose" I can see will pay dividends. It still takes about five minutes before Bella gets into the groove of it, but she gets it. I wouldn't have thought to walk her like this type of instruction dictated. Now that we've learned it and implemented it, I wouldn't do it any other way.

In this third class, we learned that "Leave It" may become our best friend in the coming weeks. I tried to implement the command as we fed her after class. I'm going to chalk it up to the fact it was twenty minutes past her normal feeding time and she was extremely hungry, but she was soooooo excited to get to her food, she may as well have been deaf when it came to the command. As we work on it, we should be able to control her completely. Anything that may distract her or draw her attention away from what we want, we catch it before she sees it and.... "Leave it," we're back in control.

As much praise as I heap upon our puppy, I do know her faults. If any of you faithful readers stop by for a visit, you will not see the same puppy myself and Chassie see. She will be bouncing off the walls. We will ask her to sit for you, she will jump in your face. It's something that we are supposed to contain, control. If there is any type of outside stimulus to reach her, her self control and attention span shrink to the size of a gnat. I'm hoping that the more we expose her to exciting (they're all exciting) situations, the more accustomed she will become. If our weekly excursions outside of our comfort zone are any indication, we have a long way to go before she thinks it's just another event.

All in all, I'm glad that we're doing this puppy class. We're halfway through and then we get to move on to the Intermediate class. You can read books and attempt to put into practice what you read. You can read books, gain an understanding of the concept, then practice that concept in an acceptable setting. I never would have done this route if it was only myself and a puppy. That's probably the introvert in me speaking; it's a good thing I have an extrovert as an adviser.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Draco's Time to Shine

I know the blog is centered on Bella, but Draco deserves the occasional post and this is that post. The other major event today was his trip to the vet to get his teeth cleaned. I got the honor of taking him this morning. He seemed to enjoy the ride over until the last ten minutes, then I noticed a panting and pacing coming from the back. It may have been my imagination. What I know I didn't imagine was what happened next...

We enter the vet's office and I say, "Hello, I'm dropping off Draco to get his teeth cleaned." The nice lady behind the desk smiles and says okay, then starts to shuffle some papers. Draco is pacing back and forth, smelling the aromas of the vet's. I ask to get his nails clipped as well to which she says not a problem. Then I turned around to look at Draco and he's squatting in the middle of the floor, getting ready to do his business. I just can't get away from this. At least I was prepared. I pull the plastic bag out of my pocket and pick it up casually, apologizing as the nice lady sprays the spot down with sanitizer.

I mention the episode to Chassie to which she replies, "I told you he was a public pooper."

Great, now we got two of them on our hands.

Loose Leash Walking

The second puppy class has come and gone. This week was more entertaining than the first session. Two dogs were absent and a third showed up twenty minutes late. I can't imagine the "ice storm" we had played much into the absenteeism, but I could be mistaken. We were the first to arrive shortly before the scheduled start of class and as we were being allowed access to the members-only suite at the PetSmart, the second member of our class arrived. The instructor allowed us to let the dogs off leash and play with each other. Bella and Archer, being the only two in class, got acquainted with each other. Bella executed her go-to-move, jumping on the back and waiting to be thrown off or removed. Archer slipped underneath her a couple of times and continued to move, preventing Bella from gaining the upper hand. Her initial excitement wore off and eventually they were able to calmly sniff each other. Shortly thereafter, the third member of class, Heidi, the rescue German Shepard joined us. Her arrival brought on a second round of eagerness from Bella. Heidi, however, seems to be a bit timid around other dogs. She did not like Bella's aggressive style of introduction and would not only run away from her, but actually try to hide. Eventually they seemed to get settled down and then something sparked Heidi to react to Bella. Bella dropped her tail and started to sprint around the room. Unfortunately, the room wasn't big enough as she ran face first into the glass wall surrounding the room. That put an end to the rumpus to start class. That's when I stopped paying attention....

Just kidding. The main focus of this lesson was "loose leash walking," not "loose leaf walking" which was what I originally thought the instructor said. I was only slightly confused until we started practicing in the aisles of the store. Once the instructor showed us the proper technique, we had time to practice. Monday was the first time I was able to put it into practice. My initial reaction is that it shouldn't be called "loose leash." There's nothing loose about the leash as we're walking. The idea behind this concept is to keep the dog on one side of you (we've chosen the left) without allowing her to pull on the leash. If she attempts to pull, you give a jerk back on the leash to correct her. If she sees something that would catch her attention, you quickly turn around and head the other direction.

The walk was much faster. Before this lesson was applied, we do our lunch time walk in ten minutes. We covered the same distance in five minutes. Before, when she pulled forward, I would stop and wait for her to sit. With this method, she doesn't get out far enough to pull and when she wants to... a quick check is all it takes to correct her. So, as I got her to sit down on the sidewalk with plenty of time left, I made the decision to walk toward the busy street. We've never ventured out that far and at first the new smells were enthralling to her. Then we got about thirty feet away from the main road and she came to a dead stop, dropped her head and was totally unsure about all those cars passing by. I told her to sit and she obliged. Then she began to watch the cars, back and forth, just like she was watching a tennis match. We watched for about a minute, then I said, "watch me" and she gazed up at me. I said "let's go" and we headed back up the street toward home.

Today, we altered our route again because a tree was being taken down just around the corner from us, right in the middle of our normal route. Bella wanted to pull almost the entire time. We only walked for about seven minutes and after about four my left hand was cramping up from holding onto the leash and checking her when she wanted to pull. Luckily, by the fifth minute she started to get the hang of this "loose leash" drill. Hopefully, tomorrow she remembers at least some of what we've learned and won't take as long to apply it.

Monday, January 23, 2012

2nd Day of Class

Bella had her second class on Saturday. And I think is was much better than the first class. Mostly because I had more fun!
To make her obedience class posts less monotonous I will adhere to a short roundup style.
First Class:
Commands Taught: “Watch Me” and “Sit”
Commands Mastered: “Sit”
Second Class:
Commands Taught: Loose Leash Walking
Commands Mastered: “Watch Me” and “Sit”
Bella is by far the best one in the class. She did “Watch Me” and “Sit” immediately once with command was said. The other owners had to repeat them over and over. 
Two puppies were missing from class (the boxer and the yapper).
Bella didn’t have an accident in class but the Corgi did.
The beginning of class was play time and the Jack Russell Terrier, Archer who is a third of her size, put Bella in her place.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

She Poops!

It took 42 hours, but everything finally came out normal Thursday morning.

I promised this would be a shorter post and as a reward, here's my favorite picture of Bella.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Poop Chronicles (Parental Advisory)

Poop. It's a word that I have laughed at many times in my immature life. It will never be looked at the same again. I feel Karma has reared her ugly head and payback has come to me for all the times I have stood around with the guys and laughed about it. Chassie has asked on numerous occasions why guys like to talk about poop. My answer had always been because it was funny. Not anymore.

I've already spoken of the incident that occurred during the puppy training class. That was only the beginning of the Poop Chronicles. Get yourselves comfortable, empty your bowels if necessary and prepare yourself for the tale that I'm about to tell...

Sunday afternoon we decided to take Bella to the Giant parking lot like we have in previous weeks. As we parked and prepared to exit the vehicle, Chassie says, "Of course I forgot to bring a bag, so she'll probably have an accident." We should have loaded back up and headed home. Unfortunately, we chose to proceed. Everything was going fine, Bella and I were walking up and down the sidewalk, watching the people, the cars and the carts. Then she got a little bit weird. Before I knew it, she's squatting on the concrete and she's relieving herself right there in front of Giant. At first it comes out normal and then loosens up. She freaks out and starts walking around as her stool loosely comes out. The cell phone comes out of my pocket and I'm calling Chassie immediately, hoping she's either close enough to being finished or can grab a plastic bag so I can clean up. As the phone rings, I make eye contact with one of the cart men, I shrug sheepishly. Chassie does not answer her phone, I'm trying to think of how to clean this up and I'm thinking the cart man is telling his manager and I'll be facing some type of public defecation charge. Luckily, the cart man comes outside with a roll of paper towels.

A few clumps of paper towels later, only a stain remains on the concrete and I'm booking it towards the car. Chassie returns shortly and I fill her in on the happenings. She asks for clarity on the loose part, did it puddle? Oh yeah, it puddled all right. We get her home and put her in her playpen where we can see her, almost two hours later she jumps up on the gate and signals she needs to go outside. I take her down the stairs and outside, her running the entire way. Immediately when she exits the house, she poops again. It starts out normal and again ends in a large puddle. Upon reporting this to Chassie, she decides to implement a chicken and rice diet for the evening and at least the next morning. We also give her Slippery Elm, which is an herbal supplement to help with diarrhea. After this, things seem to get back to normal- except for the fact that she will not poop. Since her early evening poop on Sunday, she went until Monday evening to poop again. Monday night's poop was half loose again.

And that's when the fun began...

I take her out Monday night around 9:20 and she pees. We go back inside and not ten minutes later, she jumps up on the gate and starts whining to go out. Again, she runs outside and it's another loose one. We go inside and twenty minutes later it's time for bed. We head back outside where she at it again, this time like a faucet. Chassie suggests I give her some more chicken, with half a pill of Slippery Elm, hoping that it will get us through the night. We were wrong.

It takes me a while to fall asleep in general and this night was no different. After about an hour and twenty minutes of laying in bed, I hear Bella barking from her crate. She doesn't bark in her crate. She may whine when we first put her in, but that only last three minutes or less. I get out of bed, get dressed and head downstairs. The smell hits me first. I open the crate, she bolts out, poopy paw prints on the carpet and the cover for the futon we use as a bed downstairs for her and Draco. She's freaking out and I have no idea how to handle the situation. I grab her leash, put it on her and take her outside. She pees outside. As I stand out there in the cold, a plan begins to formulate. I start by cleaning her off. I know I'll have to keep her away from the crate and the futon while I start the cleanup process, so I hook the leash onto the door. She's trying to get to me or the ball across the room as I grab the cover of the futon and take it to the washing machine. The carpet is only two spots, easy. The crate however takes me forty minutes as I gag my way through cleaning. My first poop cleaning experience was disgusting, vile, nasty and I never want to do it again I think to myself as I walk back upstairs.

My alarm goes off at two o'clock for the normal night shift. I hear it at two forty-five... whoops. I get dressed again and head downstairs. There's no odor as I descend the steps, for which I am thankful. I open the door of the crate, she exits, I put the leash on and we go outside. For some reason, 1) I didn't check the crate which I always do before we go outside, 2) Something is telling me there's an issue. I take her back inside, shine the flashlight into the crate and my jaw drops. There it is a puddle of brown all over the green plastic of her house. After already having a plan in place, I'm well prepared for this unfortunate incident. I cut the cleaning time in half and I'm buttoning it up after twenty minutes. I think to myself that if she poops again in the crate at six o'clock, Chassie is going to be late for work. In my infinite wisdom, I take a full pill of the Slippery Elm and feed it to her. No peanut butter, no bread, no tricks, I just held it out and she ate it like a treat. It did take two attempts, but she took it without an incident. Feeling halfway proud of thinking proactively for the morning shift, I head back up to bed.

Six o'clock rolls around too quickly. Chassie wakes up and I sleepily tell her that if Bella has pooped in her crate, let me know and I'll help. She then asks how the night shift was. In many less words than above, I explain to her what happened. Not five minutes later, the cell phone rings and I'm getting my clothes on as I'm answering the phone. We tag team the effort and we're done in no time. Chassie is pretty awesome at cleaning crates full of poop. Not the hidden talent I'm sure she wished she had, but pretty damn handy.

I head back upstairs to get as much beauty sleep as I can muster before I have to go to work. At eight fifteen, I'm showered and ready to face the crate, I mean the day. I head downstairs and I'll just let you guess what assaults my nose...

Four times in less than nine hours. Can I get a trophy? A plaque? This has to be some kind of record, right? As I take her outside, I notice that her backside is wet and my brilliant mind tells my hand to grab the hose that's outside. Never mind that it's raining or that it's probably forty degrees- this is what needs to happen, my mind is telling me. I probably traumatized the little rugrat, especially since I didn't bother to check the setting of the hose and it came out as a full stream, hard and cold. I felt bad about that. I changed the setting to shower and wet her down, then took her immediately inside to dry her off. So she's traumatized and close to frozen, probably really pissed off and I have to clean the crate still. I've got that routine down now. Once that is finished, I let her off the leash and she wants to run around and act like a puppy idiot. I let it go as I text Chassie and update the situation for her. She tells me that she's made a vet appointment for three o'clock that afternoon. As Bella starts to chew whatever is on the floor and I have to reach into her mouth every few seconds, I become a little more annoyed. The last straw was when one of those little razors clamped down on my finger. Back in the crate she went.

I text Chassie: "I can't deal with her. I'll be back at noon to clean out the crate again." Phone rings almost immediately. I tell her that my patience had run out and I needed a break. It happens to the best of us. I fully expected to return home at my lunch hour to find a crate full of poop. Somehow, Bella decided not to get back at me for the unscheduled bath or the forced crate entry. I returned home to a perfectly clean crate. We went on a walk for ten minutes and I thought that everything was going to start getting better. Then she pooped after the walk. Same consistency as the previous six times. Luckily, we're relatively slow at work so I make arrangements to stay at home with Bella until two o'clock. She did not poop again while I stayed with her. She acted normal, played fetch with me, chewed on her bone, took a nap on the futon and peed again before I left.

Chassie and Roberta took her to the vet as scheduled. He checked her temperature, stuck his finger up her butt, gave her two types of shots, saying that everything looked okay. He gave us some special food and some medication and told us to only fed her that food for the next three days. If the problem persists, we'll have to bring her back and get blood work and x-rays done. Good news, it seems, right? I'll finally stop the poop commentary? In fact, I will stop the poop commentary. Because she hasn't pooped since she's been home from the vet. In fact, she hasn't pooped since 12:17 on Tuesday afternoon. That's over 32 hours without pooping, as I write this.

And you would say, well, that's good because Dave doesn't have to clean the crate. Oh, my faithful reader, I wish. Oh, how I wish. She now can't seem to hold her bladder. It may have something to do with the medicine because it seems that after she takes her medicine there is an increase in the frequency she has to go. Chassie fed her the meds this morning with breakfast and between 6:28 and 8:20, she had peed in her crate. Then she peed outside at 8:22. I put her back in the crate at 8:28 and between then and 12:20 she had another accident in the crate. She peed twice outside, once immediately after I let her out and again after I gave her a bath (with shampoo and it wasn't forty degrees.) She was fine after that, went the whole afternoon without peeing and left a clean crate for Chassie when she returned home. (If we're keeping score, she is was ahead by the way.) Then after dinner (and meds) she has peed five times in less than four hours. We'll see how tonight goes. I really hope there's no crate cleaning in my immediate future.

As I conclude the Poop Chronicles, I would like to thank you for your time and dedication in reading this post, if you've made it this far, you truly are a follower of The Puppy Files. If you were at one time or currently considering a puppy, I don't mean to dissuade you from your interest. The advantages far outweigh the frustration and the concern I have expressed from the past few days. I apologize if anyone was offended by the language used in this post. I attempted to keep it clean, unfortunately due to the subject matter, well, that wasn't going to happen.

P.S. I will try to keep the next post shorter.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Puppy Class?

Dave and I decided to both write about Bella’s Puppy Kindergarten class. When we were driving home from PetSmart, I could tell we had different perspectives on the class. And I knew it would be fun to see our different views…

On the way to class I knew she was going to go potty in class. This has happened to me before…alot. I don’t know why, but it does. We waited outside for almost ten minutes for her to do her business…nothing. So we go inside.

Once in the classroom I took stock of Bella’s classmates. A Welsh Corgi who looked to be 10 weeks old, a Jack Russell Terrier who looked to be ten weeks also, a very shy German Shepherd mix rescue who looked to be 12 weeks old, a fawn colored Boxer who looked to be 10 weeks old and a Shih Tzu who looked to be 8 weeks old.

And then Bella a 14-week-old Lab and she looked humongous in comparison to them. Even though her breed will be bigger than most of the others we still looked a little out of place.  And then she pooped right at the beginning of class…like I said above, I’m use to it. But still it is NOT how you want to start Puppy Class.

Our trainer is Sarah. She has been training dogs for about seven years. Which surprised me because she looks so young. But she must have good genes.

This class was most an introduction for the pet guardians. While she was talking, I noticed something surprising. All the puppies, except Bella and Abby the Shih Tzu, were either sleeping or sitting quietly. How is that possible? This is a PUPPY class. Puppies are not supposed to sit quietly for 45 minutes, especially in a new place with other puppies. I mean has anyone seen the Puppy Bowl? That is what I thought this class would be like. Were these puppies drugged before class? How was this possible? I mean really? The Corgi never left the owner’s lap and the Jack Russell Terrier was sleeping in hers. The Jack Russell Terrier… was sleeping! Have you ever met a Jack Russell Terrier? They are not calm dogs by nature.

And Bella was consistently pulling against the leash trying to get to the other dogs and trying to meet the PetSmart customers who were watching us thru the glass wall. Even though she was a little annoying I was happy to see this. If she is going to be a Therapy dog she needs to be curious and not afraid of new people or dogs.

The last 10-15 minutes we were able to stand and teach our dogs a few commands. And Bella did them perfectly. She already knows sit, so that one was easy. We had never tried “Watch Me”. But it was easy too. This is where Bella shined; she did both commands every time.

I guess it was a good thing we didn’t drug her…but this what she looked like after we got home.

Saturday, January 14, 2012


In order to be a Reading Therapy Dog, Bella has to have a certain level of training. That certain level of training is called the Canine Good Citizen. I guess it's like a Master's Degree for dogs. In order to get that she's going to have to go through schooling, like all of us have. This evening we entered the kindergarten program which they call Puppy Education. It reminded me of kindergarten because we sat on little stools, yet there was an aspect of college as we sat and listened to what the course would cover. I was waiting for the syllabus to be handed out.

We decided on PetSmart because it's cheaper and relatively close. It was a five o'clock class and we left just before four forty. We had a few minutes with her outside in hopes that she would go to the bathroom. She didn't. As we entered the store, the sights and smells hit her smack in the face and she started to get excited. We made our way to the training area and met some of our classmates, she wanted to play more so than they did. She did give them their space which I was very happy about. After a minutes or two we were let into the training area which was a big glass box.

The class is relatively small, six dogs. Chassie may be able to inform you of all the 'mates, but I just noticed Gage, a boxer and a German Shepard who I don't know the name of. Gage was right next to us and Bella and him took an immediate liking to each other since they were close enough to play without having to do much struggling. As the leash holder, I felt somewhat of an obligation to keep her a little under control, so the teacher wouldn't call us out. Bella on the other hand wanted to meet and greet them all. She was pulling and panting, trying to take it all in.

Then her pooper bulged out and I knew trouble was brewed and about to come out. Sure enough, she pooped right there on the floor in front of everyone. Chassie handled it well, picked it right up and may have even made a joke of it. She says that she's used to it as Hunter used to poop at the vet all the time and Draco does the same. I, on the other hand, felt my face flush and I have to say I think I was more than embarrassed. At about this time, the introductions were going around... you know the drill- what's your name, tell us something about you. But this time it was your name, your dog's name, how old she was and one thing you like about your dog. As they went around the room, I thought about what I was going to say about Bella. The first and only thing that ran around my head, was she's a little poop factory. Well, I decided that she was a "bundle of energy" since she really hadn't settled down since we all entered the room.

There was a little yapper that barked the whole time. Bella and Gage tried playing with each other for about half the time. Bella and the Yapper barked at each other, which is strange because Bella has not barked much (if at all) since we got her. The German Shepard was a quiet, observant specimen. I think she wanted to be apart of Bella and Gage's group, but was a little too shy. There was another small dog, Jack Russell maybe? She fell asleep in her owner's arms. The last one was another small dog that didn't leave a lasting impression in my mind.

All in all, it was an odd group of puppies. I figured that more of them would act like a puppy, like Bella did. Chassie will tell you her side of the experience later and she will probably mention something about feeling judged because Bella was the most active, wanting to meet and play with the other dogs. I think that because Bella was the most active, the most attention was on us (especially after the poop episode) but the attention we received was because we had the cutest puppy. During the short training episode, which consisted of "Watch Me" and "Sit", it seemed that Bella was the best behaved and was able to follow the commands the best. It may be that she is the oldest and that we have already worked on her training, or it might just be that she's a smart dog and eager to face new challenges. It's still a work in progress, but in five weeks she'll be out of kindergarten.

Updated: Accident Free Days

If you are a faithful reader you may notice the drastic change in the number of accident free days from yesterday to this posting. Please do not be alarmed- you have not been drugged or asleep for the last nine days. Chassie wanted to make sure that her count was correct, so I went through our log (which contains almost everything Bella has ever done) and discovered that the number of accident free days has been a lot more than we originally thought. It actually turns out that our first "streak" was not just two days but three days in a row which occured previous to the appearance of that widget in the right hand corner.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Poor Baby Gate

I fell and broke the baby gate last night. We have two baby gates to make Bella's playpen area in the hall with tile flooring (in case she has an accident). I was leaning over it to spray Bitter Apple on the inside of the gate (she insists on chewing on everything...the tile floor...why?). And the gate slipped and so did I.

The lucky thing is, right before I started to lean over I pushed Bella towards the other gate. I am not sure why I did that exactly but if I hadn’t I would have fallen on her with gate pinning her to the floor. The whole event did scare her. And I have bruises from my hip to my shin on the outside of my right leg.

The gate that broke is a wooden baby gate. It’s been with me for years. I used for Draco and Hunter. And I was a little sad that I broke it. But I have not retired it yet. I performed a little gate surgery with wood glue and a screwdriver. I will try it out when I get home tonight. But I couldn't use it last night so Dave stopped by Home Depot on the way home to get a backup gate. Keep your fingers crossed.

Oh and by the way…it was an accident free day yesterday!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Exciting Adventures and a New Accomplishment

We didn't make the goal of three straight accident free days. It was my fault, but we'll get to that later.

Let's rewind a few days to before the snow. Sunday afternoon we took Bella over to Jeff and Krista's to introduce her to their dogs. Her first true introduction was with Montana and Mario, but since they were in their crate, it only amounted to a little bit of sniffing. Bella was too excited with all the new smells around the house and Jeff and Krista themselves to care much about two dogs in a crate.

We then took Bella outside where Zoey and Kayla were waiting for us. Zoey and Bella sniffed each other out, but Kayla wouldn't get close because I was holding Bella on the leash. Kayla is very shy around people, in fact, I think I've only been able to pet her three times in the past three years and once she was tricked into it. Once Jeff took the leash, Kayla came over and met Bella. We then let her off the leash and Zoey was able to get Bella to chase her around the yard.

Montana and Mario came out next. The introduction went quite easily and soon the four of them were playing out in the yard. Bella seemed to want to play with Mario much like she wants to play with Draco, which is to get on top of the back. Maybe it's just boys she wants to do that to. Once Bella got the hang of playing chase, she kept chasing Zoey around the yard. Kayla acted as the playground monitor and did not let them play too rough. So overall it was a good experience. They all really seemed to enjoy it, even Montana, who Krista says is a little bit of an old maid at the dog park.

Fast forward to the adventure after Jeff and Krista's. We went to Giant so Chassie could get some ingredients for dinner on Sunday night. I took Bella for a short walk around the parking lot. We met two individuals who both said that Bella was absolutely adorable. There were other people around who didn't want to engage with Bella, but she was not pushy and only looked at them curiously as if to say, "What? I'm not cute enough for you?"

Fast forward again to today...

The accident free streak ended this morning. I went in to work at seven and was not able to make it back until shortly after eleven thirty. Chassie had taken her out at six thirty. A little more than five hours was a little too long to last for her.

Finally, fast forward to this evening.... Draco and Bella enjoyed each others company without rough housing for the first time. Draco was laying down in the basement and she got close, wanting to play with him but keeping her energy in check. She circled around, sniffing him. She got close to his mouth a few times, he lifted his head and looked the other direction. She then put her whole head under his chin and pushed on him a little bit. He accepted this a few times, but eventually decided he did not like it and gave her a low warning growl. She backed off rather quickly, but thought that it might be the start of playtime. He only laid there, putting his head back down. She began to circle again. This went on for a few minutes before she finally laid down next to him. It lasted about a minute and a half where they both calmly laid together, but I was extremely pleased. Now, we only need to make that a regular occurrence.

Look….it's Snowing!

Yesterday was not Bella’s first experience with snow. A few weeks ago when Dave and Bella were on their afternoon walk it started to flurry. And she didn’t seem to notice.

But when huge snowflakes started to fall from the sky unexpectedly yesterday I was hoping they would still be falling when I got home. Then towards the end of the day, I noticed the flakes were sticking to the grass and I got really excited. This would definitely be Bella first experience with snow on the ground.

So I got off work at 3pm ran to my car and speedily drove home. Ran inside got the camera and my phone went downstairs and took her outside and was poised and ready…

And nothing. 

There was snow on the mulch and it was still falling but she didn’t seem to notice. She did what she always does, find a leaf and eat it. I was disappointed. I took pics anyway. I pointed to the sky to show her the snowflakes (yeah I know, silly idea). But nothing.

Fast forward a few hours.

The snow was now falling in huge clumps. And there seemed to be about an inch on the mulch and a little sticking to the concrete. I took Bella out to potty and she did her business and…she started to notice the snow. She sniffed around and I expected her to do what Hunter and Draco always did, jump around and roll in it. She sniffs and stops and then she eats it. That is all she the snow. It seemed anticlimactic but it was too cute.

And of course I didn’t have the camera. But I doubt I would have been able to catch the magic of Bella with her “first” snow.


It has finally happened. Bella went for two days in a row without an accident.

Keep your fingers crossed that we have many more days like the last two.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Being Sick

I have been sick this week. Dave was sick last week. Trying to raise a puppy when sick is hard.

It is not because I have to get up early to feed her or that I have to take her out every couple of hours or that she is almost 25 pounds.

It is because I just don’t have the energy to tell her no. If you are wondering what that means, here is the story of what happened last Wednesday morning…

A coughing Chassie wakes up and stumbles down stairs in a cloud of sickness and anger at Dave for getting her sick.

She makes Draco’s and Bella’s breakfast. She continues downstairs to take Bella outside and feed her. This part is a little foggy…again because Chassie is sick and it is early.

Bella pees and then starts eating breakfast and then goes back outside to poop. Then once inside, she jumps on the coffee table takes one of Chassie's new suede gloves and runs off with it. Chassie watches this happen. It doesn’t happen in slow motion, she just watches it happen, too tired to do anything about it. Chassie stands up, the movement of her standing sends Bella into flee mode and she takes off. She takes a running leap and makes it onto the couch. The two coffee tables are pushed up against the sectional couch to prevent Bella from getting on the couch. (That plan is working great *sarcasm*).

Here is where the fog clears. The “game” is called keep away from Chassie. And Bella seemed to be a natural. As Chassie would go to one side of the blocked couch to grab Bella, she would playfully run to the other side, so then Chassie would go to that side and she would in turn run to the other side. And so on and so on. The part that is sad is Chassie was too tired to try anything else. So this continues for a minute or so until Chassie stumbles over her slippers. This was lucky for Chassie. It tricked Bella and she returned to the side Chassie was closest to. Chassie did a “dive and grab” and was able to get Bella off the couch and get her very slobbery glove back.

Funny for all but me.

Thursday, January 5, 2012


Previously, I had entitled a post "Draco's New Friend." I'm starting to reconsider that title. Don't get me wrong, I think he likes her, I don't know if he would consider her a "friend" as we would define the word. Bella adores him. She would probably attempt to jump on top of his back all day if we let her. Therein lies the problem. She's constantly harassing Draco. In the sense of family, he's probably seen as the older brother: Likes his younger sister, will tolerate her for the most part, definitely needs his space away from her, and won't be caught dead with her in public. (We'll see about that this weekend when we might have nice enough weather and two non-sick humans to take them on a walk together.)

I then thought about their age difference and related that to being close to a grandfather and granddaughter. If you take the old rule-of-thumb that one human year equals 7 dog years, Draco would be roughly 67 years old and Bella would be just shy of 2. However, doing a Google search enlightens me yet again. There's no real conversion between dog years and human years. It seems now the general consensus is that the ratio is greater in the first two years of a dogs life and decreases with age. One "expert" believes each of the first two years of a dogs life is equivalent to 10 1/2 human years and about 4 human years for each year after. Another source believes that after the first year, the dog is the equivalent of a 15 year old human and ages roughly 5 human years every year after.

So what this means is we've got a middle aged man who only wants to play when he feels like it and a baby girl that is in constant need of attention. Envy us?

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

It’s Our Fault

Housetraining is said to be the most frustrating skill to teach a new puppy. Of course puppies are capable of learning this skill. Dogs all over the world are telling their owners right this second they need to be let outside to do their business. So why is it so frustrating? And more importantly why is Bella struggling with it?

Dave and I have read books and scoured the web in search for how to properly teach her and now for how to troubleshoot the problems we are having. What have we learned?

It’s our fault, not hers.

What? How is that possible? We are doing exactly what our research says to do. We take her outside to her “potty area” on a leash and walk her back and forth. We will do that for ten minutes. But she will just sit down or play with leafs. So we go back inside and she pees right when she gets inside. It is like she just waited to go inside so can pee right at our feet. But why?

Is she doing it on purpose? Is she laughing at us? It feels like she is.

It is here in my rant is when my Dad would start his anthropomorphism speech. I have heard it before. In short, as a human with human feelings and thoughts we sometimes think our animals have human thoughts and feeling too. They don’t.

Which means she didn’t do it on purpose and she is not laughing at us. We just are missing what she is trying to tell us.

Which also means….Yes, it is our fault.

I think I have figured it out. I am not sure I can put it into words but I spent a lot of time with her over the Holidays and we have come to an understanding. She has not had an accident, when she has been under my care, for several days. (The accidents have occurred under Dave’s care. Maybe should have named this post Dave’s Fault…j/k). I know when she needs to pee and if she doesn’t do it outside, I will wait. Maybe we will go for a quick walk. Or I will ignore her and will not look at her. But she will finally pee. And if she doesn’t poo I know she needs a lil exercise to get the pipes flowing.

I think is it all the one on one time we have spent together. With the holidays and Dave being sick, I have been able to pick up on her tells. I am sure she will have an accident again on my watch but I think I understand what she needs even if she doesn’t.

And in case anyone wants to keep track….I have added the Accident Free Days tally to the blog. (see the top right)