It’s been an exciting week for Archer between puppy club and his first walk, he’s continued to grow at a prodigious rate. An update on a few of the key areas:
- he’s finally learnt to climb the stairs on his own, just in time because he’s getting a bit to heavy to be lugging around. We are still working on coming down them, which involves me animating him like a marionette, but he’ll get there.
- toilet training is going well. He can now almost get through the entire night, and the number of accidents has dramatically reduced. His clear preference is to get outside now. On the odd occasion if I’m busy/distracted and forget to take him, he’ll now come over to me and make it clear he wants out.
- his relationship with the cats continues. They will often now pass each other without incident, it’s a bit cagey but they are getting there. Archer has had to be told to “back off” a couple of times by the cats with a double jab to the face, it’s a language he understands all to clearly. Wen discovered that the cats love for catnip overrides any fear they still have of the dog. Wen will spray the catnip on the carpet and both cats will get down of their perches and push past the dog to get to it. That’s been hugely helpful because calm (high) cats are far more tolerant, and because they are relaxed Archer realises it isn’t play time and is calm as well. Hopefully we’ll close the last few inches in the next few weeks. I have a target to send out Xmas cards with both cats and Archer sleeping together, Archer with a Santa hat and the cats with elf hats, I can dream and there’s always photoshop.
- training hasn’t made much progress this week, we’re still bedding in the basics (come, sit, down, paw). The biggest priority is to nail “come” in all situations. To that end i’ve got some “higher commodity” treats in the form of cocktail sausages, which I’ll only dish out if “Come Now” is successful.
- his food bowl has been moved out of his crate into the kitchen, it’s simpler and less prone to me spilling on the carpet. The kitchen is also where his remaining accidents where occurring, I’m hoping by putting his food there he’ll get the message.
- being able to sleep through the night means we have a much more solid routine and are generally in a better mood on both sides.
- he had his 2nd bath this weekend. I can’t say he was happy, but he accepted it with good grace and he really enjoys being dried off and the general pampering Wen gives him afterwards. Just before he goes and rolls in the dirt again. He was a very dirty dog judging by the colour of the bath water.
- he’s been far less belligerent this week. He’s had a lot more opportunity to socialise than in previous weeks, both at puppy club and more visitors. Coupled with a bit more freedom in the garden, as I blocked the last of the areas he would get into the most mischief. He seems to be more relaxed than last week.
- puppy maintenance, we had to cut his claws again (only 2 weeks since last time) and I finally had enough of the pissy stained wick of hair hanging of his old boy, and got the scissors out. Shudder, the things that aren’t discussed about puppy ownership, oy vey.
On the Monday he had his first of four visits to the vet’s for puppy club where he has an opportunity to socialise with pups of his own age and the nurse briefs us on aspects of owning a puppy we might not have considered. There were meant to be 8 pups but only 4 made it (it is after all summer holiday season). The pups that made it beside us, included:
- another golden retriever female called Lucy. 4 weeks older than Archer and it showed, she was a inch taller and a few kg’s on him
- a pomeranian, a lovely bright eyed ball of fluff about the size of two hands
- a tiny terrier cross, which could literally sit in one hand
The nurse did the introductions, and we got into the main event letting them off the leash. First was Lucy and the pomeranian, not surprisingly the pom was overwhelmed by the attention of her boisterous new friend and made her feelings clear, bringing their first brief encounter to a curt end. Next Lucy had a run at the tiny terrier, Lucy tried to be a little less scary, sensing she needed to be more gentle, but dialling it right down from 11 was still to full on for this pups first outing.
Then it was Archers turn, I was in two minds whether he would go the way of the first two pups, or if he would be up to the challenge. I needn’t of worried 30 seconds later he’s on his back there’s flashes of teeth and claws and he’s loving it. Lucy is beasting him, and he’s having the time of his life, tail going part in submission and out of sheer excitement. The other two pup owners look on in horror at the violence of the scene, the nurse reassuring them it might look like something from Fight Club but it’s actually quite normal for this breed (and Lab’s).
They are in danger of going at it all night so the nurse get’s us to break it up and runs through the finer details of Coprophagia a word I’d never come across, which is surprising given I’d eaten enough in my career. Archer I’m afraid is most definitely a coprophagia connoisseur, favouring cat then bird. Luckily he’s not a huge fan of K9 either his or the foxes. He should grow out of, in the interim I’m doing my best to reduce his access.
Next it’s the sit demo. First up the terrier who does a sterling job, although to be fair his bottom is only 1cm from the ground so it’s not exactly a challenge. Lucy after a bit of coaxing mangers her sit, followed by the pom who was straight in there. Then it’s Archers turn, he’s been doing sit for weeks, we’ve got this one in the bag. Sit Archer, nothing. Out with the treat, Sit! He’s too interested in the other dogs especially Lucy. Sit! I’m trying to get his attention and it isn’t happening, I take him further away and stand in his line of sight so he can’t see the other dogs, Sit! The nurse offers up a new treat. Sit boy! Nothing. In the end I finally managed to get his attention by shoving the treat in his mouth and taking it out again, I seize the opportunity and bellow SIT! Finally, he puts his arse down, thanks mate!
The nurse weighs each of the pups during the evening as well to make sure they are hitting their targets (for each of the breeds). Archer has put on the best part of a kilogram since his measurement 3 days earlier, proof that we’re not going mad and he really is growing millimetres during every sleep, and he still sleeps a lot!
The session ends in another all out royal rumble, this time the terrier and pom start to come out of their shell if only to egg on the ongoing prime time Lucy and Archer bout. Archer still looks like he’s losing, and loving it. Every time Lucy’s owner calls Lucy off to give him some respite he’s diving straight back in. His interaction (when he gets a chance) with the terrier and pom is much more nose bumps and sniffs.
The nurse hands out some free samples and the session is over. Lucy & Archer definitely loved it, I’m not sure the other two pups were quite as impressed. He slept well that night, whimpering and kicking Lucy in his sleep.
FINALLY the day had come, a week after his 2nd set of jabs and “I” was allowed back out. Sweet freedom, oh and Archer was allowed out the first time as well. We’d been training him to walk on leash in prep and he’d been for a few car rides by now, so it wasn’t going to be a complete shock. I’d arranged to meet with a friend and her dog Syd, a lovely old girl (the dog that is). His first outing was going to be at the local country park a leisurely stroll around the lake.
So on with the leash, the 4 photo montage (see above) was pretty much his reaction:
- photo 1 – walkies? I don’t know what that is but I’m excited because you are, let’s do it!
- photo 2 – actually I really don’t know what walkies are and the leash means we are going out
- photo 3 – out is scary, so many noises and smells
- photo 4 – i’m scared, let’s just sit here a while
In the end end I gave in (again) and carried him to the car and clipped him in the back. The irony that in a couple of weeks he’ll be chewing my arm off to get out the door and in the car. not being lost on me, so we’ll entertain it for now.
We get to the park and have to drag him out of the car, he’s not a happy pup. I start him slow walking towards the path round the lake. Everything is getting super sniffed, he’s very skittish, totally overwhelmed by it all. Then he spots our friend and her dog and his tail goes up wagging and he forgets how scared he was. In a split second he’s now all about a walk with the pack and making new friends.
So we walk around the lake a couple of times enjoying the weather and the cool breeze. He’s as good as gold, walking nicely on the leash. He greets everyone he meets as a long lost friend, he’s gentle with the small children and respectful to the bigger dogs. All in all a perfect walking companion even at this point.
I’ve decided he will be better of on a harness than a collar and I’ll investigate getting an extending leash, not that it would have been usable today but there will be more open walks in the near future. I have to keep reminding myself that he is still a pup and try and it keep these walks to 15m tops, especially in the sun. We’ll keep it to one walk a day until he gets used to it. It’s obvious even from this first walk that the stimulus he gets is going to make a huge difference to his and my general temperament during the day, and it’s the perfect antidote to the weeks of cabin-fever.