Archive for the ‘family and friends’ Category

The Three and One Quarter Club

We’ve had Ava for two weeks now.  She is making strides with a few things. Gracie and Ava seem to be getting along.  I see Gracie trying to engage Ava in play a lot. Ave doesn’t bite, but she doesn’t hiss at Gracie (that much).  They really seem to be amiable.

Yesterday we went to my friend Lisa’s house.  Her two shih tzus are good friends of Gracie.  They play and really enjoy each other’s company.  Usually when we bring Gracie to see Teddy and Ranger, we’ll leave the dogs and go out to dinner.  We decided four dogs in one house is just too too much, so Dave cooked.

 It was a beautiful day yesterday and Lisa has a beautiful fenced backyard where doggies can run free.  And they did.  But first doggies wanted to make sure we weren’t leaving.  (We weren’t, I promise.)

I wouldn’t say Ava was part of the pack.  She was an observer of the pack.  Gracie, who doesn’t seem to know how to play outside, was definitely part of the pack… she just wouldn’t chase toys outside.  She’s all about the squeak, as discussed earlier, just not outside.

When we got inside, after dinner, we went downstairs. Ava promptly (okay with prompts) went down the stairs all by herself.  The other doggies were playing at our feet, but Ava is an observer and sat outside / behind the furniture.  Lisa, who fell in love with Ava, went to look for her and she wasn’t downstairs.  Where did this dog go?  Upstairs!  Can you believe it?  She went upstairs.  And did so two or three other times.  At first I thought she went up to sit at the door because she wanted to go out.  But no it wasn’t that.  She liked looking outside.  Crazy dog. Who Can Climb Stairs!!!  (Lisa has like six or seven stairs–half the stairs we do…it probably isn’t nearly as scary for her.)

Gracie and the boys had some good play time, chasing each other like doggies who can play together are supposed to do.  But at one point, Gracie lashed out at Ranger.  I’ve never seen anything like it.  It was like she was going for his neck.  <sigh>.  So Gracie was made to heel for a bit.  Lisa thought it was because Ranger was on the ottoman, a place she was enjoying.  But as Lisa said to Gracie, Ranger is allowed on the ottoman.  So Ranger was put back on the ottoman.  I’ve never seen a more nervous look on a dog.  We praised him and told him how brave he was.  Again, a little more aggression–is that the poodle in her?  Finally, we made Gracie apologize to Ranger… sniffing, sitting together, etc.

When we left, none of the doggies wanted us to go.  We got home and it was time for bed.  I wanted Ava to try our stairs.  I put her front paws on the first riser then her back paws, repeat, rest and try again.  Finally, about the last six risers, she did it on her own.  Way to have the confidence Ava.

The Three and one-quarter Shih Tzu visit was mostly a success.  Something we will definitely do again. It’s good for Ava to be around other doggies.

As I sit here writing this, Ava is on her back, getting a good scratch and Gracie is sitting head to head with Ava in play position.  Nothing is coming of it, but Ava is pretty vulnerable and letting Gracie near her.  Good doggies.

Our First Week with Two Dogs

Just when you need it, the video camera decided not to work.  But let me tell you about our week.  Lisa suggested we try walking the dogs together, so I did with the split lead — two doggies on one leash– and with great success.  I did notice that Ava isn’t a real walker… but Gracie was very patient with her and waited — but not too much.  Ava was walking at quite a clip.  On Saturday night,  we bought a harness for Ava to use in the car.  At Petsmart, the dogs shared a shopping cart, enjoying the sights.  I think the shared walk really helped them.

Sunday, we took Gracie and Ava to my mom’s for Mother’s Day.  Ava was loved by all — and she was milking it, taking all the laps offered her.  Gracie was pleased as punch to share her backseat with Ava.

One of the tricks we do with Gracie is have her “show me”… Show me what you want,  show me poppa, show me momma, show me Grandma Dee.  Then Gracie will go with great gusto to said thing and if it’s a person, she’ll touch it with her paws or nose.  On Tuesday I asked Gracie to show me Ava.  She ran down the stairs, ran to Ava and stopped her.  Good girl, Gracie.    Tuesday night, Ava was pretty tired — all that walking on those little legs — and was curled up on her pillow.  I don’t know what Gracie was doing, but she got close to Ava.  Ava did not like this, and hissed at Gracie as if she were a cat.  I told Gracie to come by me, which she did.  It happened again when Ava was on Dave’s lap.  Gracie went by to sniff her.  Ava hissed again.  We praised Gracie for not hurting Ava and let Ava know we do not tolerate that behavior by taking her off Dave’s lap.

By Wednesday, doggies were sitting on the same pillow (I didn’t see it, but Dave said so).  But Wednesday night held its own dramas.  We had a wicked bad thunderstorm. Gracie is miserable.  She pants, her skin/fur is hot and she shakes–a lot.  We don’t Ooo and Ahh over her when she is like this, rather tell her she’ll be okay.  Ava gets nervous but we didn’t have evidence of anything like Gracie’s issues.  By the time it was 4 a.m., both doggies were a wreck.  I held Gracie down all night long and she ended up on my pillows just above my head.  Dave had Ava duty. I think she was trying to get close to Gracie, but it was too late and I was too tired.    All in all, the two sisters seem to be doing well they even finish they’re #1’s at the same time.  Synchronized.

In the last week, this is what I’ve observed about Ava:

  • Ava doesn’t sit, stand, or come when called
  • Ava doesn’t climb stairs
  • when you want to pick her up and she doesn’t want it, Ava slumps
  • Ava sits on her pillow all day and sleeps
  • Ava doesn’t know how to play with other dogs
  • Ava doesn’t do well with children

and Ava is potty trained!

All this says to me that the people who owned Ava when she was a puppy seemed to think she was a toy.  She didn’t need to do anything, she wasn’t socialized with other dogs — she wasn’t allowed to be the best doggie she can be.  That makes me angry and it makes me sad for both Ava and Gracie.  I know shih tzus.  One of the smartest dogs I know is a shih tzu and they have the ability to learn and learn quickly.  So, for now we’re letting Ava be Ava.  But there will come a time that Ava will be held accountable for that list.  Slowly but surely, she can be a better doggie!

Day 2

Here are some updates on Gracie and Ava.  They sort of speak for themselves.

Mmmm, rawhide.  Every night at 7 p.m., just about when we’re eating dinner, Gracie gets a dingo rawhide.  I think eating them has helped keep her teeth healthy.  Would Ava like one?  Would Gracie let Ava eat her Dingo?  One of Ava’s issues is that her first family would take food out of her mouth as she was eating.   At first Gracie wanted the Dingo Ava was getting (Ava actually didn’t get the Dingo at this point, I didn’t give it to her until Gracie was enjoying her Dingo.)

Once Ava got her Dingo, her back was to Gracie and she gave great attention to that bone.  She isn’t as quick as Gracie, but she did a good job on it.    Gracie girl is enjoying a big girl rawhide in this movie.

These pictures sort of explain how most of our day went.  Peaceful truce.

Our New Reality, Day One

Dave and I picked up Ava last night.  We brought her home and she met Gracie outside on “neutral” territory.  They seemed to have gotten along… then we came inside.  Gracie first (my first error of the night).  When Ava and Dave came in, Gracie defended her home.  She barked and got in Ava’s face.  Poor little dog, Ava immediately went into submissive mode.  It went that way for a while, Ava staying in the vestibule of our house and Gracie tense.

Sigh.  Did we make a mistake?  That was my first thought.  Then I called Lisa. She said to reward the good behavior. So we tried that.  All night long Gracie would snarl at Ava whenever she got near me.  Not so much Dave, but always with me. This put sweet, damaged Ava in an uncomfortable spot, literally!  She stayed in the vestibule facing the door hoping that her foster mommy would come pick her up.  Then, when that didn’t happen, she just tried to get comfortable.

So, Gracie the perfect little dog, is my guard dog.  Great. We saw it after my surgery.  She stay by my side.  But not once had she acted out in protection of me.  It may be that Ava is a girl dog and most of Gracie’s dog friends are boys.  We didn’t want to reinforce the guard dog thing, so as soon as I realized what was happening, Dave and I made sure Gracie was never actually guarding me.

  • Dave reasserted his top dog status by making sure Gracie was always settled down
  • I would put myself between her and Ava and face Ava, not Gracie.
  • Gracie was required to be down.
  • All the time reinforcing good behaviors in both dogs

By the end of the night, I was exhausted, hoping we didn’t make the wrong decision.  At bedtime, Dave took the dogs out one at a time.  I brought Ava upstairs with a dog bed. I put the dog bed in the corner and put her in it.  She roamed around and that was okay.  Then Dave brought Gracie up and she went directly on the bed where she stayed all night right next to me.  I realize this was reinforcing the guarding of momma, but I we decided we needed status quo.

When I got up around 4, Ava was in the corner, on the dog bed.  When Dave got up at 6, the report was the same.  Ava stirred a bit when Dave left the room and I made sure Gracie’s head was down.  All the time thinking about the dog whisperer, she needs to be a calm, submissive dog.

So, now, this morning.  Dave took the dogs out one at a time, Ava first then Gracie.  When Gracie came in, she smelled Ava who was sitting on my lap.  That was it, just smelled her.  Good girl Gracie.  Then Gracie jumped on the couch without asking and sat between Dave and me.  And asked for her belly to be rubbed!

Right now both dogs are laying down separate with an uncomfortable truce. And no one is barking!

Life’s about to change

Dear Gracie:  I didn’t know I could love a dog.  Then I met you.  There was a great debate in the newspaper about this: do dogs have the ability to love?  I don’t think so.  They’d be just as happy with someone else who met their needs — it might take a while, but they can transfer their allegiance.  But as a human, I have the ability to love my dog and that is what matters.

Well, sweet Gracie who taught me compassion, things are about to change!!  Ava is coming to our house today to make you a sister.  Our family is increasing.  It doesn’t mean I love you less.  Really, it means I love you enough to see that you might need companionship.  That I realized that leaving you home alone — even with a dog walker — isn’t fair to you.  That mommy and daddy can’t play with you all the time.

Sister Ava won’t play with you right away, Gracie.  We’re going to have a few hard weeks ahead of us.  But, Grace Hopper, I really truly think this is the best thing for our little family.

Love,

Sharon/mommy/the lady with the food on her hands

New Friends

We had our home visit with the good people at New Beginnings Shih Tzu Rescue.  Asia came as did little Lafayette.  Lafayette is a 9 month old toy poodle who is painfully shy/nervous.  Gracie really tried to play with him — really tried — but it didn’t work.

Asia — who will be named Ava if I have anything to say about it — and Gracie had a tentative start.  I got the treats out and Ava was hoping for some. To the point that Gracie got a little snarky with our houseguest.  I didn’t think that was very polite and Gracie girl had to give up her treat until our guest had one.  By the end of the visit the two girls took turns getting yummies.

What are we going to do?  I don’t know. If I could read my doggie’s mind it would be a lot easier.  In my heart I think that Gracie is lonely and would enjoy being a sister.  I just don’t know what dog is the right dog.  Is it Asia/Ava?  I say her name and Gracie seems to look around.

So here is a montage of the two girls, Asia/Ava and Gracie girl.  They seem content, huh?

Touch My Hand

A few weeks ago our little family went to Lisa’s house to have a doggie date. Gracie loves Lisa’s shih tzus, Ranger and Teddy.  We were having fun but for some reason, Lisa needed her doggies by her.   She said to the boys, “Touch my hand!” and the two dogs went right to her.  I asked her about it and she said sometimes she just wanted them to by her side.  Well, I thought this a very useful trick indeed and set out to teach it to Gracie girl.

Put the treat in the palm of your hand.  When the dog comes and touches your hand, release the treat.   Genius.  I’ve been working on her about 10 days and lately alternate treats in hand vs. no treats.  Sometimes you get it, sometimes you don’t.

This trick came in handy today when we looked for a doggie sister or doggie brother for Gracie.  After visiting with Ranger and Teddy and seeing her have so much fun with them — spontaneously playing with them — she needs companionship.  So we’ve been visiting shelters and rescues and went to look at a shih tzu from New Beginnings Shih Tzu Rescue. These are the good people who Lisa found Teddy.  We met many sweet dogs.  The one dog we went to see didn’t seem like a good fit for our family.  But we found two other ones that may fit very nicely.  We are doing a home visit with them this week to see.   Hopefully we’ll have video of the home visit to show you.

Everyone says that having a second will change Gracie.  I just don’t know if that is a bad thing.  I don’t think that she is as happy as she can be.  She constantly wants to play with me.  Her separation issues are an issue and she thrives around her doggie friends.  I do not know if we will get a second dog, I do know we have to try for Gracie girls sake.

Defining Family

This week’s video doesn’t seem like much.  Gracie is sitting on the arm of our family room couch looking out the door window.  It’s about 60 seconds long and she is just sitting there.  Not a lot to look at right?  Not until you learn the context of the video. 

I was out of town for business three days last week. I tried to give Gracie girl some warning, telling her I’d be gone for three darks (nights) and then I’d come home.  (Someone mentioned that dogs seem to understand that. ) I don’t think Gracie understood.  According to my husband, this 60-second video was a snapshot of the time I was gone.  Whenever she heard something, she’d perk up and think it was me.  And she sat on my side of the couch, looking out waiting for me to come home.  So sweet.

It got me thinking about our family.  I used to think that it was enough that one of us was around for Gracie.  When Dave gets home from an errand or work, Gracie and I would celebrate while she jumped from my arms to his.  But it wasn’t enough that Dave was home and I wasn’t.  Gracie seems happiest when we’re a complete unit.  She defines her family as a unit of three, and without the complete set she is incomplete.  It was an eye-opening revelation.

Gracie and her Pa, Jake

We found Gracie through my husband’s close friends Chuck and Pat. Their dog, Jake the Bichon Frise, was the daddy of the litter.  Whenever we go to Chuck and Pat’s house we bring Gracie so the two dogs can play. They really enjoy each other’s company.  Can you see a little bit of Jake in Gracie?  I can.

Some Hints
I think it takes a while for the videos to load... they're HD format and are pretty big files. If you click on the arrow and then immediately click the pause button. This allows the video to load. Once there is more grey line than black line, you should be able to press the play button. Enjoy.