Sunday, January 24, 2010


I am very lucky to have so many older friends and mentors.

I went to a funeral yesterday for the man who hired me at my present job. He was so smart that I often had to make him stop talking while I plodded through his explanation and caught up to his train of thought. I would then say "go" and he would continue explaining. I never did get good enough to understand his entire explanation first time through without stopping. (I did learn enough that I could go away and figure out the missing steps on my own!)

He was obnoxious, sometimes rude, brilliant, stubborn, sometimes funny, sometimes incredibly crude, and a very good man. He cared about the community, his friends, his family and his work. He worked many, many hours a week and loved it. He always championed the underdog. (I think that's why he took me under his wing.) He introduced me to some of my favorite clients and always told people I was great. His recommendation was often all I needed to win a new client.

On the way back to work after the funeral I started to think about those older people that I am losing. There have been several amazing people who have died in the last few years. They were mostly in their 80s. I understand that no one lives forever, but I will always miss their advice and support. I started to think about the possibility that I might be a person who could provide that kind of advice and support to someone else. It seems like such a big responsibility! I feel like I am slowly losing my "net." I hate to think that I will soon be the older and more experienced generation. I better work harder or I will not be up to it.

I just wish I had thanked him before he left.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Puppies - The Good, The Bad and The Ugly - Part III

This is it, the final chapter in my personal puppy ponderings. This one is really ugly. I will not be including any pictures. Those of you with weak stomachs or delicate sensibilities had better skip this one. Actually - those of you that have weak stomachs might reconsider the whole puppy experience.

The ugly part about puppies is mostly related to their eating habits. Puppies will eat anything - twice. What goes in a puppy usually comes back out. When it fails to come out, you pay a huge vet bill. I have so far avoided the vet bill, but it's still a possibility.

Here is the ugliest example so far. Coach and Jazz were playing in the back yard when I heard him yelp. I ran to see what was wrong and he was chewing a piece of string. He came in when I called him - some progress has been made in the training arena! There was about an inch of green yarn (or something that looked a little like yarn) hanging out of his mouth. I went into Mommy mode and took hold of the end to get it out of his mouth. (We don't want the sweet little guy swallowing string, now do we?) I gave a little tug and he gagged very loudly. About six feet (that's right folks - I said feet) of green string came out of his mouth. I was horrified, but undeterred. I gave another little tug. He screamed and I met with considerable resistance at the end of the string. (I really don't want to imagine where the other end of that string was.) I grabbed a pair of scissors and cut the string off. EEEEEWWWWWW! I then had to watch him swallow the remainder of the string. I don't have a real strong gag reflex, but that was nasty. I decided that the only recourse was to try to "shove" the string out the other end. I fed him a great big dinner. Then we began the waiting game. He went outside that evening and again in the morning, but nothing unexpected came out. I left him playing outside with his brother while I took a shower. (They always wait until you're nice and clean to do something messy and disgusting.) I got out of the shower as Coach came galloping into the bathroom with Jazz a respectful distance behind him. He looked a little strange so I put on my glasses. You guessed it - the remaining yarn. About five more feet of yarn with various unpleasant decorations was dragging behind my lovely puppy. I did the expected thing and pulled. YUCK! I have not seen any more yarn going in or coming out since then. I hope never to repeat that experience. The final part of this story is that Jazz and Coach spent the next five minutes watching Coach's back end as if it might present them with more entertainment. Lucky for me they were disappointed.

I have more examples, but I think you get the picture. I learned this little lesson only this morning. If you see something unusual on the floor, don't get too close to it without a gas mask and a plastic bag. I think the dogs have different priorities than I do.

You really have to love them though. Otherwise - why on earth would anyone want a puppy?

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Puppies - The Good, The Bad and The Ugly - Part II

There are some bad things about having a puppy. At least there are bad things about having my puppy.

That was a temper tantrum. It was a fairly mild tantrum, but when he has a bad one I can't hold the camera. He starts leaping at me and batting at me and screeching at the top of his lungs. Please don't tell me to ignore it! I do that. I timed him. He can yelp at the top of his lungs for 40 minutes! No kidding! It makes my ears ring and my head ache. The worst part is that he starts this and Jazz goes outside. That means that he gets rewarded for this behavior. He hollers and Jazz stops doing whatever it is that Coach doesn't like and leaves. Coach wins. He does seem to be outgrowing this and we are working on impulse control.

He also yelps like this in his crate. Those of you who were unfortunate enough to witness a sample of this screeching during puppy class can vouch for me. It really is ugly! That was caused by the foolish idea that Coach should sit quietly in a crate. He is not very interested in sitting in a crate when there are exciting things going on outside the crate. Crate covers do not seem to help. I have had to resort to a tarp over the crate. He tried to eat the sheet that I was using. When he starts that screaming at 3:30AM it really hurts. Jazz climbs in my bed and hides his head under my body. This whole yelling and screaming thing is very bad. Very, very bad.

There are other bad things about having a puppy. They destroy things. I keep thinking I am watching him every minute. I am wrong. I no longer have toilet paper in the holder in the bathroom. I swear I would look away for one second and Coach would grab one end and unroll the whole thing before I could turn around and say "leave it." I finally gave up and put the toilet paper on the counter. I have also lost a comforter. I was getting dressed and I thought he was sitting on the floor. Again I was wrong. He was happily unstuffing my comforter. Luckily, I didn't like it that much. I am missing one hand knitted blue sock. I'm pretty sure he took it. If you see it - please try to keep him from eating it. The sock is probably ruined, but I hate to pay the vet bills if he eats the darn thing!

Finally there is the general mess, chaos and smell of puppy. Yes - I love puppy breath, but after puppy breath is other stuff. I don't know what he gets into. OK - sometimes I do know what he gets into. Either way - he often smells less than sweet. He breaks things, eats things, barks, runs around, leaps on the furniture... you get the picture. I am slowly gaining control of the puppy and regaining my life. I often get to sleep all night now. Maybe next week I can try putting the toilet paper back on the holder. Maybe I'll wait a while.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Puppies - The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly - Part I

Coach is fast approaching five months old and it is time to reflect on the puppy experience so far. My friends are all reminding me that I told them not to let me get a puppy ever again after Jazz. Jazz was cute and annoying and very sick, so he was expensive and scary also. I decided to get Coach because I really wanted to try the puppy experience with a healthy puppy and a little more knowledge.

So we should start with the good part of puppies. There are lots of really great things about having a puppy. They are soft, sweet, cuddly and very, very cute!

How could you not love that puppy?

I have had such a great time teaching Coach tricks and getting to know him. He is very quick to learn and very intense. He does everything with enthusiasm. He has learned to heel quickly. It's been a whole new experience for me to have a puppy that is focused and enthusiastic. He is so much fun to teach and I am so much better equipped to teach him. I am very pleased to feel capable. I was nervous trying to teach Jazz. I remember feeling awkward with a leash in my hand. I couldn't figure out how to hold it and I yanked and jerked poor Jazz. It does me good to remember that time and realize that holding a leash and asking for Coach to cooperate is natural to me now. (Poor Jazz - he really is a better dog than I deserve!) So I am happy to be able to use better methods and have more confidence as I train Coach.

The last reason I wanted a puppy was for the experience of having two dogs. Jazz is a very social dog and loves to play. He is six years old, but he will play until the puppy walks away! I have really enjoyed watching the two dogs build a relationship and seeing how they interact. It has been great for Jazz to have someone besides me to play with. Coach is more centered on me than Jazz is, but he also benefits from having a "big brother." I have learned quite a bit about how to discipline a puppy by watching Jazz. He doesn't worry about hurting anyone's feelings, he doesn't care if it's fair, he just makes a choice and then tells the puppy what to do. Coach never seems to be particularly intimidated, but he usually does what Jazz wants him to do. I think I used to worry about being "mean" or "hurting the dog's feelings." That really is crazy. Jazz has taught me to get rid of that baggage and just tell them what to do. I am feeling pretty good about our little pack. (I know it's early, but one day at a time.)

So the good part of having a puppy is:
They are just darn cute and cuddly.
Training a puppy is fun and helps me see how much I have learned.
Building a pack and seeing dog social behaviors has been fascinating and instructive.

We'll talk about the Bad next time.