Monday, July 23, 2012

News Flash: New Canine Good Citizens

The GPC became the CGC on Sunday morning, as four dogs received their Canine Good Citizen Certification. Those honored included a black Goldendoodle, Ziva, a cream Goldendoodle, McGee, an Airedale Terrier, Morgan and finally a Chocolate Labrador Retriever, Bella. In order to be recognized as a Canine Good Citizen, a dog and its owner must show proficiency in ten areas which relate to good behavior, obedience and good grooming habits. It had been a long process for these pups, three separate training classes, each six weeks in length, spanning almost seven months. Their hard work paid off in the end.

The day started out gloomy. An overcast morning with occasional sprinkles dotted the landscape of the terrain and the emotions of those involved. Most of the participants arrived early, about ten minutes before the scheduled start of the test at 10 a.m. The woman administering the test, a different pet trainer than the one these pups had been working closely with over the last several months, explained the process and had the owners fill out more paperwork. It was explained that the paperwork previously filled out was only for PetSmart records and not for the CGC. This news of more paperwork brought a round of groans from the weary owners and an exclamation from one, "I forgot my glasses and I have old eyes!"

Once the paperwork was filled out completely, the dogs were then allowed off their leashes to play and burn off some energy. This exercise lasted about five minutes and then the leashes were put on and it was time for business.

The test started quickly, if you weren't paying attention, you would have missed it. In the blink of an eye, three items were done. Accepting a Friendly Stranger, Sitting Politely For Petting, and Appearance and Grooming were completed in one quick round. The administrator said she would knock out a few of them at the same time. She did not lie.

The next stage of the test involved Sitting on Command and Staying in Place and Coming When Called. The administrator called for a volunteer to go first. The participants looked at each other, nervous energy written across their faces, then the Chocolate Lab Bella and her owner stepped up. It took a moment to get the lab calmed down enough to sit in place. At one point, the administrator even walked over and attempted to get her to sit and stay. At that point, this scorekeeper put an "F" on the scoreboard and was waiting for the retest. However, the owner of the lab did not panic, composed herself and her dog and quickly knocked out both sections, completing half of the test. The other dogs followed suite.

Quickly on to the next section of the test they moved. The administrator knocked out Reaction to Another Dog and Reaction to Distraction together. The administrator walked around the room with her dog, a 10 year old Husky as the testing dogs sat in place and did not move. Then the administrators daughter ran around the room while the administrator made whooping noises, again none of the dogs moved. Just like that, seven items were complete.

The class was then moved outside of the enclosed room to the isles of the store itself. The next item was Walking on a Loose Leash. The administrator told the participants what the course would be like, then took them all on a practice run and told them that she would follow behind. During the course of the walk, you were able to correct the dog if it attempted to pull on the leash. This last minute addition probably saved many dogs from failing this portion of the test. As the dogs were making their way through the course one by one, the owner of the Chocolate Lab nudged me and pointed at the ground where her dog had just been standing. I could faintly make out a paw print left behind in perspiration. Whether this was from the dog's energy or if she was feeding off the owner, this was a sure sign of the stress the participants were feeling.

Once the loose leash walking was complete, the administrator quickly gathered her "crowd" for the next test subject. Walking Through a Crowd consisted of the dogs walking around the administrator, her daughter and the dog's original trainer, Sarah, without straining on the leash or jumping on the crowd.

After the completion of the Crowd section of the test, the administrator gathered the dogs and their handlers around and commented that she was very impressed with all the dogs to this point. She then commenced on the final step in the test, Supervised Separation. Simply put, the dog has to be able to be handled by another person without the owner present for three minutes. The dog must remain controllable and not whine for the owner.

All four dogs took their turn. and once the Chocolate Lab returned the test was complete. The administrator then told us, that while she was walking Bella, the lab, around the store her daughter noticed that someone had put something in his pocket and was about to walk out of the store without paying. As a store employee and the administrator approached the man, Bella sniffed at his pocket, distracting the man and eventually pulled out the merchandise he was attempting to shoplift. It appears the Canine Good Citizen program has more rewards than just well behaved dogs.

They then headed back inside the classroom where the administrator congratulated everyone on the completion of the test and said that while one retake is allowed if a dog was to fail a portion of the test, none of the dogs needed it. She said that she will not pass a dog unless she is confident that the dog has earned it, since the dog ultimately reflects her once they are in the real world as a Canine Good Citizen.

After eighteen classes, months of practice, and countless hours of frustration these dogs have proven to their owners that they are worth the title which they have worked so hard for. They are truly Canine Good Citizens. Congratulations Ziva, McGee, Morgan and Bella!

The Trailer for the Bella Movie

A couple of months ago, my brother (Sawyer) gave me his video camera for us to take video of Bella Graduating from Intermediate Class. Unfortunately, I forgot to charge it and we weren’t able to take any video. 

But we took some really great short clips of her interacting with new things. We gave the clips to Sawyer and he has made this trailer of the upcoming Bella movie…

If you are interested in Smizzle Smith Productions or would like to acquire Sawyer’s services you can visit his website.

Thank you Sawyer!!

Friday, July 13, 2012

ChewToySaga (Chewbacca, Get It?)

We know that we have a chewer on our hands. If I had any type of foresight, I would have pushed to name her Chewie, skipping the whole Harry Potter theme and going on to another beloved franchise. Needless to say, I did not pass the entrance exam to the Psychic Network and am not employed by Ms. Chloe. In all honesty, it's probably better that way.

We still have a problem on our hands. You know about the baseboards and what our darling Bella has been able to accomplish when trusted alone for a little while. Now, as she has gotten older and we have taken her to get some of her excess energy out, she has been a lot better about not chewing the baseboards. She will still get bored when we're downstairs. Her toys and I, therefore, have developed a special relationship.

There's the Nylabone, which is just a big hunk of plastic if you ask me. It's not just plastic though, it's a quality chew made in the U.S.A. and can keep her entertained for hours. In fact, just as I started writing about the Nylabone Bella picked hers up and brought it over to the couch and started to chew on it. The one she's currently working on has a notch in the middle that we can stuff treats into. The first time we did that it took her about half an hour to get the treat out and finish it. Now that's she knows what it is, it takes her about ten minutes to finish the treat.

The next go-to time killer is rope bones. She loves rope bones. We've had to move her up to the large rope bones just because she was going through the smaller sizes too quickly. I found what I thought was a badass, thick rope bone with tennis balls on each end. I thought it was the find of the century, or at least the past nine months and could not wait to see how many hours she would get of pleasure from it. She destroyed it in less than ten minutes. Chassie picked out a thick rope bone that's going on a few days. She's definitely been limited in the amount of time that she's allowed to chew in one sitting. If we allowed her free-reign, I think any rope bone would last no more than thirty minutes. Breaking it up, I think we've gotten a good 30-40 minutes of chew time in the last three days and still have more to give.

Then there's the elk antler. The elk antler is something that is relatively new to both Chassie and myself. She discovered them while shopping at Weber's, a specialty pet store here in Fairfax. She asked one of the employees what a good chew toy would be. This was at the time when the baseboard situation was at its peak. The employee recommended an elk antler and said that her labs are occupied for hours with them. Chassie looked them over, considered it and then purchased it. It was an expensive investment, nearly twenty-five dollars for one, but well worth it. We didn't give her the antler right away, in fact it sat in our cupboard for nearly two weeks. When we did, she was hooked. I'm not sure how long the first one lasted, but it was well worth a second one.

Since these antlers are quite expensive, we began to search for something cheaper. Chassie purchased one from Dr. Fosters and Smith online. She bought the large, expecting about the same size as what we were buying from Weber's. It was about a fourth the size. Around this time, Chassie shows me a Facebook post from my sister about finding a good, quality antler since her dogs are going through them quickly. Our search continues, but we continue to go to Weber's in the meantime.

Last weekend, we did a serious search on the internet and found a few places to buy antlers in "bulk" and save a few dollars. We decided on Yellowstone Antlers. They are naturally harvested from the Rocky Mountains, which were two important factors- a U.S. product and naturally found. The minimum purchase was 2 pounds, so we decided to order them up. On Thursday of this week we got the shipment in the mail. It was three antlers, two large and one massive. It came out to about fifteen dollars an antler. We gave her the first of the antlers this evening.

So far it seems like a great deal. She's had the antler for about an hour and has given it up twice. Once because she told me she had to go to the bathroom. We went outside, good girl. The second was because she pushed it underneath the couch, which I did not realize. This was when she grabbed the Nylabone. There was just a third time, another bathroom break. As we returned, she immediately picked it up and took it back to the couch to enjoy. How long these will last is the real question. When we have a good answer, we'll let the paying public know.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The CGC Practice Test

On Saturday we had our third Advanced Training class with Bella. This was our third class but we missed last week because of the Derecho. Since we are not following a curriculum we didn’t miss much. This week we ran through the CGC test items. Essentially we had our first practice CGC test.

Want to guess how we did?

1. Accepting a Friendly Stranger-PASS
2. Sitting Politely for Petting-PASS
3. Appearance and Grooming-PASS
4. Out for a Walk (Walking on a loose leash)-FAIL
5. Walking Through a Crowd-PASS
6. Sit and Down on Command/Staying Place-FAIL
7. Coming When Called-PASS
8. Reaction to Another Dog-FAIL
9. Reaction to Distractions-PASS
10. Supervised Separation-PASS

We got 7 out of 10. Unfortunately to pass the test you need 10 out of 10. So we failed.

Sarah believes Bella will pass. She told us to concentrate our efforts on walking with a loose leash (using her collar and not the harness). If we can master that she believe we will pass #8 (reaction to another dog). If Bella walks next to our side then we would have more control and she would listen better when we are telling her to “leave it” at the other dog.

Bella has previously been very reliable with the staying in place (# 6). But on Saturday she just wanted to be close to Dave, so she followed him when he walked away.

Our homework: at least two walks a day using her collar and focusing on loose leash. This is the key to passing the test and is the most coveted command of all dog owners.

And in case you are wondering when the test will be…it is scheduled for Sunday July 22, 2012. Two weeks to go!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Get a Room

Dogs use their tongue a lot. Bella has a tendency to use her tongue very frequently. We've noticed that she has a tendency to lick Draco's ears when they are together. It's either a grooming thing or a submissive thing, or both. It's okay at first, but then it gets excessive and now has gotten to the point where we try not to let her lick his ears at all. It's quite disgusting in fact, as Chassie has pointed out.

On Saturday, at advanced training class, I noticed her interacting with her tongue in another way. In our class, there are four female dogs and one male dog. The male dog, McGee, is a very lazy dog. If he's not asking for or receiving attention, you can bet that he's laying around. We were out on the floor of PetSmart practicing greeting another dog or loose leash walking or some other activity. McGee was laying on the ground, waiting his turn. Bella was panting next to him and then laid down herself. They were within inches of each others face and then the tongues came out. They just licked each other's mouth like they were best friends. I've never seen that before and they went at it with a ferocity I didn't know was possible in dogs. If this was a grooming exercise, then both dogs had a really clean mouth after that.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

The Epic Conclusion You've Been Waiting For

We can't trust Bellatrix yet. She's still a puppy, staring nine months in the face but not yet there. While Jeff and Krista were gracious enough to entertain us, we put her in the crate overnight. Said crate was in our room with Draco. We heard Bella whine and whimper for the first few minutes, we would call out to her, comforting her, but I swear, before I fell asleep I thought I heard Draco whimper. It may mean nothing. It might just mean that he cares about her.

Sunday was another challenging day. We didn't know if we had power, we were faced with the unknown, the uncertainty of making a decision and facing it being wrong. Allowing Bella to play with everyone first thing in the morning proved too much to handle for us. We decided that we had to put her back in her crate while the other dogs were allowed to recuperate from the morning activity. Chassie and myself went to get breakfast for Jeff and Krista and ourselves, talking about what we were going to do. We didn't necessarily decide that we were going to go home that afternoon but it was almost a forgone conclusion. We returned to their place with breakfast, let the dogs play for a little while, again deciding Bella was too much for everyone involved...

Ok, you deserve some type of explanation: The foster puppy Jeff and Krista had taken in is seventeen weeks old, his name is Sherman (though I had to dub him the Sherminator), he's a Platt Terrier. He's got some energy, likes to play with Bella, but a little more advanced than she was at that point though. He will hold it to pee outside. Bella loved to play with him. They were two peas in a pod until she started to get a little rough. Kayla, the German Shepard, acting as the momma-dog, would then come over and break things up. It's good to have a schoolyard monitor and that's exactly what Kayla is. Play time is over and we move the dogs inside. Let me say that again, Play time is over. Bella does not understand that. She thinks if another dog is around, they must want to play with her. This is one of our biggest problems with her. She walks around, waiting for something to happen and when nothing happens, she takes it upon herself to make something happen. She walks around, nudging and bumping until someone engages, good or bad. If she makes it through the gauntlet of dogs that are sleeping on the floor, she pursues the issue to those that are on the couch. The couch, guess what... it holds the humans who don't necessarily want puppy breath in their face.

To illustrate the point: Saturday night, she had to be separated from the other dogs. As I arrived at the house, the dogs got a little bit excited. Eventually, they all calmed down, all except Bella. We took a break, going to dinner and returning a few hours later. Most of the dogs only had a little bit of energy left. Except for Bella. She continued to press the play button while the other dogs had turned off for the evening. Jeff and I eventually went downstairs with her to their basement. She was interested in sniffing out the entire basement before she decided she could lay down. When she did lay down it would be for no more than two minutes at a time. I truly think she has ADD for dogs. Finally she laid down between us for fifteen minutes, then we decided it was bed time.

Back to Sunday, we put her in her crate a few times throughout the day. She barked each time we did, something she rarely does when we put her in her crate in the basement of our own house. We put her up in her crate just so we didn't wear out Jeff and Krista, we may need them for another favor later.

At 15:00 we decided we would head back home, wish for the best and brave the elements if the worst remained. We went to some stores in the Leesburg area, hoping to find ice. Three stores down, no ice to be found. It was closing in on 16:30 before we actually left. The hottest part of the day. I'm not going to lie, I was a little concerned.

I took Bella home in my car. I buckled her into the seat belt with one of these pet seat belts, which actually works very well. (Again, if I wrote reviews...) She was in the front seat. She laid down almost the entire time, panting. We made it to the first toll booth on the toll road and as I rolled down the window, she sat up, but quickly returned to her position on my arm rest. She panted the whole way home, but I had the funny feeling that she was happy. Granted, I did sing to her most of the ride... good thing she has no idea what pitch and tone mean.

Chassie had Draco in her car as we pulled up to our house to find that power had been restored. We entered the house to find the A/C and lights on, almost as we had left them on Friday night. It was a surreal moment, finishing the circle we had started. The dogs, while on leash were calm and almost as happy to be home as we were. Maybe, just maybe, they are starting to get it. We want them to be friends, we've been asking them to be friends. She's had her chance in the past couple of days to meet other dogs and annoy them.... it's time for her and Draco to be able to just hang out.

Sunday night they did nothing but sleep. Draco hardly moved from his bed in the upstairs level and Bella alternated between sleeping on the couch next to me and the floor by my feet. It was quite the relaxing evening.

We had already decided to take Bella to Doggie Day Care on Monday. Since I don't have to work until noon on Monday's, we figure it would be perfect to drop her off sometime in the morning and Chassie can pick her up on the way home, this way we get the discounted rate since she's not there for eight hours. We called on Saturday evening, scheduling for me to drop her off at 10 o'clock. The goal was to wear her out. It worked. She slept almost the entire evening again.

Tuesday we kept her normal schedule, which is a walk in the morning, into the crate from about eight thirty until Chassie returns home around four. They then go on a walk and play in the basement before putting her into her playpen until I return home. Normally, she jumps up to greet me, not this time. As I walk up to the gate which confines her, she looks up from the floor, her eyes the only thing moving. The weekend of adventure has completely worn her out.

Wednesday was the big day, the Fourth of July. Preparations were already in place to keep Draco as calm as possible. This basically meant giving a dose of UltraCalm to him in the early afternoon. We then broke out the baby pool and hoped that Bella would learn to play in the water. At first she was again tentative, circling around the outer edges of the pool. Occasionally sticking her muzzle into the water, lapping up a drink or blowing bubbles with her nose. After a few minutes, I decided to press the issue, much like the previous excursion. I picked her up and placed her gently into the baby pool. She stood there for a second, much like last time and then proceeded to walk around the pool. We were able to get her to sit and lay down in the pool. After she laid down, she immediately got up and jumped out of the pool. We put her back in and she again was able to lay down and allow me to gently pour water over her with my hands. It was another improved performance on her part.

Chassie and I then went over to a friend's house for a barbecue around four o'clock. We were there for about three hours and toward the end I started to hear fireworks being set off. It was time to return home and give Draco another dose of UltraCalm. I took Bella out of her crate and she and I hung out in the basement for a while before Draco came downstairs, wanting to be away from the explosions. I could occasionally hear loud bangs, but nothing I would consider a crazy display of fireworks.  Bella would perk her head up and wander over to the basement door, as if to say, "What is that noise?"

Draco kept insisting to enter the room, scratching at the baby gate. I allowed him to enter and almost immediately he laid down between the couch and the table. Bella sniffed at him, cleaned his ears like she loves to do and then left him alone. He laid by my feet for the rest of the evening. She laid next to us, not bothering him at all. I was able to pet both of them at the same time.

Now, this may not have been the epic conclusion that you were waiting for or expecting, but it was a monumental step in the progression of these two dogs.

Friday, July 6, 2012

The Derecho Which Brought Us Together

This post was written before Dave's "Derecho (June Watershed)". But Dave beat me to the publish button. So here is another point of view of Friday's Derecho...

Unless you have been lucky and living under a rock the last couple of days, you should all know about the rare Derecho which hit the DC area on Friday. A Derecho is a fancy meteorologist term for a line of thunderstorm which have uncharacteristically strong winds. It blew through the greater Washington DC area at 65 mph with wind gust over 90 mph. And in true DC fashion we want to name this Derecho. There is a poll for the best Derecho name on the Washington Post blog, my favorite is: Derechonundrum. (click here to see the other contenders and to vote)

You are asking yourselves now:

“How did this crazy storm bring you together?”

And maybe some of you are asking,

“Who is ‘we’?”

Let me explain. Draco is not a fan of thunder, lightning or fireworks. So you can imagine July is his least favorite month. So when Doug Kammerer, from NBC4, kept interrupting the gymnastic trails to tell us about this storm we gave Draco some Ultra Calm.
Just before the storm hit Draco came downstairs and asked to come into the living room (it is gated to keep Bella from going upstairs un-chaperoned). Typically this would be difficult because Bella would want to play with Draco and Draco wouldn’t want to because he would be scared of the approaching storm. We let Draco in and Bella just grabbed her rope bone and jumped on the couch to chew. Draco laid down next to the couch by Bella and to wait out the storm.

Dave and I looked at each other then at the pups and smiled. This is what we have been waiting for, all of us together in peaceful bliss. Soon enough though it sounded like the world was coming down outside. And even though we lost power and sequently the AC, we were a happy family just like Dave and I had always dreamed.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Derecho (The June Watershed)

A few weeks ago, my friend John mentioned something about a watershed moment with his dog. I had never heard the term before, so I looked it up. A watershed moment is basically a critical turning point. In this case, he meant when she lost her pure puppy energy. He said that his dog, Marley, had her watershed moment at about two years. Then he followed up that comment by saying, "But she was unique." For my sake and Chassie's sanity I hope that she was truly a unique case. By unique I mean, it took her a very long time to lose that puppy energy.

We had a "watershed moment" this past weekend. A meteorological phenomenon occurred in the Washington, D.C. area that wrecked havoc across the area. This phenomenon, called a Derecho, knocked out power for nearly 1.5 million people. We were one of those affected, but let me start from the beginning....

Friday morning I took Bella to PetSmart's Doggie Day Camp. We figured that if she gets extremely tired playing with four other dogs during an hour at class, she'll get worn out by playing with twenty or thirty dogs during a six to eight hour day. It worked. I dropped her off around eight-thirty in the morning, Chassie picked her up around three o'clock in the afternoon and she was worn out. We figured that she would be the girl that stayed awake the whole time, looking for something new to excite her and I think that was the case. When Chassie brought her home- to our boring house- where nothing exciting happens, she plopped down on the floor and slept until I got home. Our normal routine played itself out, I took Draco for a walk and then I took Bella downstairs.

At this point, Bella is laid out tired. She doesn't move much for anything. It's probably Chassie's idea (she is the smart one), let's get Draco and Bella together in the same room. I'm game, let's try it. We are trying to get them to interact, but interact calmly together. At first, she's a little excited, but eventually she's more interested in gnawing gently on her rope bone. I do stress gently at this point, because she is a fan of destroying rope bones within hours. Draco is laying on the floor, Bella is on the couch, Chassie and I are looking at each other, not exactly understanding what is going on. Thank you PetSmart Doggie Day Camp, if I wrote online reviews, you'd get a five star rating.

During our euphoric experience, we are watching the U.S. Olympic Trials on NBC4. A special weather statement interrupts our viewing pleasure. Doug K. says we've got bad weather on the way. Then as I listen a little more involved, he straight up says, "You will lose power." Chassie is already on her way upstairs to get candles and our emergency radio we can crank by hand for power. I wasn't worried, then the light behind me started to flicker. For some crazy reason, I thought it might just be the light bulb going out and as I turned on the lamp across the room, Chassie echoed my thoughts by asking if I thought it was just the light. Wishful thinking on our part. Sometime around 22:30 the room went dark and all our appliances with it.

We watched from the basement as trees bent over in the wind, lightning lit the sky, then the rain came down and gave us a first hand look at what ripped through the area at hurricane force winds. Two candles lit our basement as Chassie cranked the radio with the weather band in full force. The little robotic voice kept us updated as the storm blew past our neighboring cities at 65 miles an hour, leaving downed trees and power lines in its wake.

Draco, who is usually terrified of thunderstorms, laid between the couch and the table, relatively calm. It may have been the UltraCalm that Chassie had given him, but normally that only works so much. Bella was a little more interested as she would walk to the basement door, where we would stand watching the lightning and wind. When we figured the power was not turning back on we decided that our best option was to stay in the basement. Bella's place is in her crate when she sleeps. Her crate is in the basement. We normally put her in her crate and leave her for the night, two stories below where we sleep. This was the first time, except the very first night we had her, we slept in the same room. I'm not sure what Chassie's feelings were, probably very apprehensive that she would not enjoy being kept away from us, but I was expecting her to bark and whine most of the night.

She went in her house and was a perfect angel. In fact, I would not have known we were sleeping in the basement except at 01:30 a series of random beeps, fifteen seconds apart woke us up. At first I considered the end of the world, though it wasn't hot enough on second thought. I stood up and looked around. I'm confused, what the hell is making that noise? Chassie says something about the Verizon box behind the T.V. Good call, the battery backup, that's the sucker making all the noise. I kneel down and press buttons, eventually figuring out there's an "alarm silence" button. Back to bed.

Saturday morning is the apocalypse. I won't sugar coat it. Chassie freaks out. What are we going to do with two dogs and no air conditioning? She presents that question at least three times to me. Once when we wake up, it's six thirty. My brain does not work before nine o'clock. She talks out loud better than I do and eventually things start moving. Seven thirty we are at Giant, our supermarket, looking for ice. No ice, we buy water, Gatorade and Diet Coke. Five twelve packs for  twelve dollars, nothing like a deal when the Apocalypse is upon us. The second time the question arrives is on our way home. I get a text from my boss/co-manager "Need help" and my first thought is at work or at home. I'm trying to figure out what I have to do to make Chassie happy. Long story short, I finally get a hold of Jeff, who has just recently moved out to Leesburg. I ask if he has power. He does.  I ask if he's willing to take in Chassie and two additional dogs for the afternoon. He will. There are angels among us. Thank you Jeff. Now for the kicker, Jeff, will you come out here and pick up one of my dogs so Chassie doesn't have to drive an hour out to your place with two dogs that like each other but don't want to be close to each other and I can go to work?

The question comes a third time and I have an answer. I look like the hero, but really it's a friend who has power and a big heart. Thanks, dude. I still owe you.

"I'll leave here in fifteen, twenty minutes," he says. You're a savior, I think to myself. I'm off to work, which in and of itself was a hectic experience. Enough about me though, this is about the dogs. I get a text from Chassie at some point in the afternoon that Bella's peed twice and pooped once inside the house. I'm pretty sure she adds another one, maybe two peeing accidents inside the house before I get there.

I'm going to say she's just excited. There's a lot of stuff going on. She's entering a new place with dogs she's only met once before and when we add our two dogs to the mix, there's seven dogs. That's Jeff and Krista's four, plus a foster puppy they have and our two dogs. Seven dogs in one house... it sounds like a lot. It is a lot.

I arrive at their place around 18:30 and enter this large pack we've created. I know these dogs relatively well, two are mine and the four Jeff and Krista have, well they kinda like me. Except for Kayla, but she's a different story. Loyal, that one is. I've known Montana since she was a puppy, as I may have mentioned before I practically helped raise her. She must remember that. Within the first ten minutes I arrived at Jeff's house, after greeting everyone and making my way over to the couch to sit down, Montana sat down at my feet for some petting, which I'm happy to give her and have always done. Bella pushed her way next to me and Montana was not happy about that, growling at my dog because she got a little too close. I'll admit that I'm not the perfect man, but damn do the ladies love me.

We went to dinner, locking Bella in a crate away from home. She wasn't too happy about it at first, but by the time we returned home she seemed fine with being confined away. Draco was the only dog to have free-reign of the house. He only had two rooms and a hallway, but at least he wasn't behind bars. I guess old age does have it's benefits.

The biggest thing from the first day of our excursion was that Bella and Draco were part of a pack. They did not interact like we would consider normal, which is to say Bella demanded to play and Draco refused. Instead, they both were able to interact with other dogs and accept the rules of a new household.

From the way it went over the weekend, for it to go as smoothly as it did, I think this may be a watershed moment. We've got a few ideals that we're working for and the fact that even one of those is possible is enough for us to continue on. I'm not so sure they jump up and scream their presence, but this was as close to a confirmation as we could hope for. For those that think I've left out the bulk of the story, I have. There's the whole day Sunday and the return trip, not to mention another Day Camp day on Monday and the big event that is the Fourth of July. No one has ever told me how long you are willing to listen. Therefore you all will wait. It's as simple as that.