Posted in "Daily" pages
The Art of Making a Dog
Let’s start with the fun stuff. Her name is Caprica, (Well, really it’s CNC’s Platinum Caprica Six) and she’s an eleven week old standard poodle.
She’s teeth and springs covered in marshmallow fluff and about as busy and needy as an 18 month old toddler on a tear. She needs to eat, poop, play, and be loved, within firm and non-negotiable boundaries. Most of our pictures of her are when she’s sleeping, because when she’s awake at least one hand is required to interact with her.
Also, her naps are contagious.
She’s smart. Crazy smart. She came having not walked on a leash. She learned in about 15 minutes to give to pressure, and by the end of the evening we had done a couple puppy sized figure-8’s in a textbook heel. Along the way she offered a sit and I started shaping that as well, so in one evening of about three sessions while outside doing business she had the foundation of “sit” and “heel” down. To the point where she now becomes indignant if she sits and there isn’t a treat and praise. Which there usually isn’t, of course. The behavior bar is going to get raised higher and higher.
The decision to bring Caprica home was in some ways sudden; we have been talking for years about getting a “next dog.” Part of David would die if he were dog-less and Rosa is 12. She’s still healthy and happy and active, but she has more years behind her than in front. Poodle has been the only breed we kept coming back to as a possibility. We discussed more or less all of the herding breeds and some hounds, but none of them met our criteria.
So a week ago we decided we wanted to get serious about looking for a puppy, decided Standard Poodle was a good breed for us, found an excellent breeder with a perfect puppy about 15 minutes later, did some more research to confirm the breed and breeder were really the right one for us, went and met her, and brought her home Sunday.
Because Rosa and David are tightly bonded, and because I both have experience raising puppies and am able to be home all day, I’m her primary handler. I told David last night I’m making him a dog, which is pretty close to the truth. I love animals and dogs are no exception, but all things being equal I am moving towards simplifying my life and probably wouldn’t get another one. David, though, needs a dog, and I’m his partner, so we’re going to have a dog. I’m making sure she’s the best dog she can be.
The next few weeks are intensive puppy training time, while we settle into housebreaking and she learns what the limits of her environment are. I’m probably going to be raising a puppy and not much else. In the way of a mother of a young child, I only get to tend to necessities while the puppy is sleeping, which means I have a half hour to ninety minutes in 3-4 snatches a day for things like taking a shower, eating, shopping, and cleaning. And she wakes me up 2-3 times a night to go out.
Of course I could in theory leave her crated or in a playpen more so I could work more, but right now I think it’s important to establish that floors and crates are not for peeing, and to work out signals with her so she can let me know when she needs to go out and I can let her know what’s ok and what’s not. I very much believe in positive conditioning and establishing good attachment and trust in young people and animals. I believe that’s the foundation of a stable, healthy, happy temperament. so that’s what I’m doing. It’s a tremendous amount of work right now, but will pay off dividends for the rest of her life. I want a happy, secure, trainable dog. Trust and communication are the foundation of that.
All that stuff last post about having a productive schedule? Yeah. That’s out the window until at least October. Anything I accomplish above the bare minimum necessary to keep the family clean and fed will be a miracle. I’m busy right now, making a dog.