A big thanks to FracturedFaith for his regular Flash Fiction Challenge, a fun opportunity for would-be writers to test their mettle by writing a short piece around an inspirational topic. This week, inspiration is the attached till receipt, genius.
We’ve been on several walks now and Archer is not surprisingly loving them. He loves being constantly fussed over by every passerby. He invites it, pulling at the leash to meet each and every new friend. Most people (80%) will take the time to run through the “ohhh he’s so cute” routine, usually asking his age and pointing out how fluffy he is, just in case I hadn’t noticed (my black t-shirt covered). He laps it up.
I do however worry about the odd person who doesn’t interact with him in some way, not even a smile. I’m not talking about runners or otherwise occupied people or the small number of people who are obviously afraid of dogs, you can spot them a mile off, their body language gives it away and I make a point of putting him on a very short leash. I’m talking about the very small number who upon seeing a puppy making a bee line for them, show absolutely no interest. It seems unnatural to me, and I find myself thinking Archer is a natural Voight Kampff test, and worryingly not all of these people are passing it.
After the attention, it’s the smells he loves the most, the little nooks and crannies that have obviously been turned into doggy bulletin boards. He reads each one avidly decoding the secret messages left by his kin. Occasionally he’ll just stop, head up, nose twitching he’s definitely having a completely different experience to me on these dewy morning walks.
He had been pushing his luck when greeting other dogs in the park for the last week. Clearly not showing respect and tending to bounce around a little too over excited. That was until a lovely German Shepherd finally annoyed by his over zealousness decided she had enough and gave him what for, pinning him to the ground and giving him a close up look at her very impressive set of teeth.
He got the message and it stuck, since then he’s approached all dogs (big or small) with a little bit more respect Getting down low and reducing his bouncing as much as any excited pup possibly can. It’s funny to try and see him get lower than a terrier, especially as he gets bigger.
devourer of worldS
At home things have not been so great. He loves to chew things, all things. If it fits in his mouth he’ll chew it and given half a chance swallow it. The biggest problem with his chewing is it’s left him with an upset stomach for the last week. He couldn’t make puppy class, for fear of leaving a stream of brown stinking liquid across the vet reception. It’s hugely frustrating that he doesn’t seem to connect his predicament at the back end with what’s going in at the front end.
The lowest point was 3am on Thursday I’ve awoken to a godawful stench I’ve got up and gingerly tip toed to the light switch to discover a chocolate milkshake. Luckily he had hit the puppy pad and so in my bleary eye state I’ve started to clean it up. I tie it up in a bag and take it downstairs. On my return I’m hit again by the smell, only to realise he’s done a second equally large pool of poop, again on the remaining pad (good boy). I then realise in horror that’s he stepped in this one and walked it around the room. Quarter of an hour later and another bag of liquid poop, I head downstairs to lose the bag. On my final return to the room, I find Archer on my bed, on my bed with uncleaned paws. I think that’s when I lost the will to live.
The next day I woke up in a fowl mood, too little sleep and the smell of doggy poop still in my nostrils, worse Archer also woke up on the wrong side of the bed and he was being extra arrogant too boot. We spent the morning huffing and puffing at each other. I finally went for a run to clear my head and get some alone time, to get my shit (no pun intended) together.
He continues to push the boundaries of what’s acceptable at all times, it seems like a battle of will’s most of the time. In many instances the only way to win is to distract him with treats, but it’s a hollow victory to have to cheat.
Back to the vet
By Saturday he’s dropping dark (although thankfully solid) black poops, which can be a danger sign of an upper intestine/stomach bleed. He’s not got any other symptoms, in fact he’s his usual arrogant self. But we resign ourselves with a trip to the vet, if only to put our minds to rest. Waiting in the vet reception (the same one he plays in weekly) he’s loving meeting all the dogs and people going past.
A gorgeous border collie sits down next to us, 2 years old and a professional working dog the owner tells us, in fact on his way up to Yorkshire tomorrow for two weeks worth of competition trials with the rest of his pack. I can’t recall seeing a dog that was so focused, just sitting there looking around the room you could see it analysing everything, it interacted with all the other dogs and people.
When Archer decided to do his puppy play nonsense the border collie growled and bared it’s teeth, Archer was being very slow on the up take, continuing to annoy her, until she had no choice but to make her annoyance clear. As with the German Shepherd earlier in the week he was solidly put in his place. It is a lesson he needs to learn, not every dog wants to play, especially a working dog that has little tolerance for the bullshit of a puppy.
The vet finally calls us in and gave Archer the once over, everything was normal he wasn’t presenting any issues, he maybe a little bit gassy. The vet took his temperature for the first time, catching him off guard, but it too was normal (i’m not sure Archer agreed it was normal). The general consensus was whatever it was it looks like he was practically over it, obviously keep an eye on him and he should be fine.
The vet had also reminded us to sort out his Pet Insurance, Archer was covered a few more days under the original policy thrown in when we picked him up. We had been umming and ahhing about it, trying to make that financial vs risk judgement call. The situation was rapidly resolved when the vet, pointed out a foreign body removal in a big dog could be problematic and they’d just done one that ran to £3k. Imagine a couple of those in the first two years, my sisters lab had already suffered similar self inflicted problems, luckily avoiding a worse case scenario.
If there’s one area that has made progress, beyond archers ability to grow millimetres with every sleep, it’s his relationship with the cats (photo proof above). There is now mutual respect, he understands not to bounce at them and they’ve twigged if they don’t run he won’t chase them. In fact it’s gone the other way the cats will lay in the hall because they know he won’t pass. If he still puts his nose where it’s not wanted he gets a hiss, with the constant threat of a double tap to the head. I’m starting to think the animal approach to dealing with puppies seems to be far more effective than my treats and kind words.
It’s been the toughest week so far, between his dodgy tummy and Archer’s increasing bloody mindlessness it’s not been a huge bundle of fun this week. The only silver lining is I might still be on target for a Xmas card with cats and dogs sleeping together, fingers crossed.