24 June 2017

Gus Loves To Walk With Us

By: Jon Katz

Gus Loves To Walk With Us

It was easy to teach Gus to "come," since he loves to come to people, all we had to do was put a name on it. He loves to walk with me or Maria, we walked all around the pasture, past the donkeys (he keeps his distance) and around the fences. He walks well on a leash and loves to walk alongside of us around the farm and grounds. Maria is great at positive reinforcement, it is her natural gear. This time, she is much more actively involved in training, and that is good for Gus (me too.)

I am still shocked at how big a personality such a tiny creature can possess.

Posted in General

Gus At The Round House: Had I But Known…

By: Jon Katz

Gus At The Round House

Had I but known how much women love puppies when I was a teenager, I would not have spent nearly so many nights alone listening to Buddy Holly and feeding my tropical fish.  I would have  bought a puppy.

We walked by the Round House Cafe this morning, and the staff – Hosannah, Quinne and Lindsay – came charging out to see Gus, they just loved him.

He seemed to love being loved, as do we all. It was just a pleasure to see how happy these very lovely people were to see him, hold him, talk to him. I promised to leave Gus at the cafe sometimes to help socialize him. To be honest, I don't think he needs much help at being social. But I don't think he would mind a bit.

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The Wizard Master Tour Resumes: Gus To The Post Office

By: Jon Katz

Gus To The Post Office

When we got Gus, one of the first things Maria said was "we have to take him to the Post Office to meet Wendy, she loves animals." Maria and Wendy, the postal clerk are good friends, and Maria was right. Wendy practically melted away. Gus was happy to meet her. I don't think socialization will be a big problem.

If you want to lift the spirits of your town and bring joy, get a puppy and march down Main Street. I was the most popular person in town this morning.

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Gus Revealed. First Night. How Dogs Can Find Themselves

By: Jon Katz

Gus Revealed

Gus was subdued yesterday, the first day with us, I can see that now. His personality was revealed this morning when he pleaded to get out of his outdoor pen and join the gang. Since he was quiet for a full three minutes, he got his wish.

We had a great first day with Gus in almost every way. I believe he is housebroken after one day, he has gone outside a dozen or so times and runs to the door when he needs to eliminate. Another victory for the crate.

Gus was separated from his mother and siblings yesterday, we put him in his crate, he yowled and screamed for about a half an our, and then gave it up and went to sleep. I let him out at bedtime for me, around 10 p.m., and he walked outside, peed and took a dump. Maria woke up around 3 a.m., as she usually does and took him out and he went again.

He has had no accidents in the crate or in the house, and it's only been one day, but he clearly waits to go outside, I think we are very close, if not already there. Another victory for the crate, I have not had a dog have an accident in any of our homes for many years.

Once he is housebroken, he will remain in the crate whenever we sleep or leave the house for any length of time. That will go on for several months, at least, until it is clear he has no tradition of jumping in counters or chewing table legs or sofas.

This morning, I thought it was time for him to get to know himself and occupy himself, so I got up early and fed him and took  him outside. I put some toys and water in the pen, and left Fate with him, and went back to bed. He screamed for a few minutes and then chewed on his toys and tossed them around.

For me, there are struggles that simply must be won. If a dog thinks his screams will get him out of his crate, he may never quit.  If he has several accidents in the house, he will have more.

It know it is very difficult for people to put their dogs in crates and turn a deaf ear to their laments, but it is a great gift to them as well as us. He doesn't need me to bring out his craziness, he needs me to bring out his sanity, his calm.

These are the days when things are imprinted on dogs and become habits and addictions. I need my life and Maria needs her life, and Gus needs to have his life, also, even at so young an age. If he doesn't  learn it now, he will never learn it, and we do not want a crazy dog unable to settle down or know  himself.

For me, this is a spiritual exercise, not a matter of obedience.

Gus stopped crying after I went inside and I went back upstairs to go back to sleep, read and talk to Maria. Saturday mornings are special time for us, I am not giving them up for any dog. It's a dignity question, I do my part, they have a part to do as well We respect one another.

When I looked out of the window, Gus was playing and tossing his toys around or sitting and staring at the sheep. So he had a night by himself and couple of hours this morning by himself.

This may be the most important element of my training, helping the dog to know himself, it is the essence of calming training. That is, living with a dog who respects your dignity and space. When I let  Gus out of the pen, I brought him upstairs to see Maria, he was happy to see her, and it was a lovely way for her to wake up, showered with licks. Then back outside with Fate.

When we got up, we walked around the pasture with him, played with him and taught him to "sit," which he now dies 9 out of 10 times. We took him to the Post Office to meet Wendy, and then to the Round House to see Quinne, Hosannah and Lindsay.  He eliminated outside before we left and when we got back. He is sleeping in his crate as I write this, not complaints at all.

He is beginning to move with Fate and Red when I say "let's go, dogs," and Fate is studying him carefully, trying to figure out what he is and how she can push him around. Gus can take care of himself.

I am so pleased he is sleeping in the crate now.  And it allows us to live our lives in peace. I never wish to have a dog I have to shout at all day. Gus is beginning to understand his crate as a safe and restful place. Maria said "good crate!" and tossed some treats in and he ran in happily.

Posted in General
23 June 2017

Empathy: Imagining A Puppy’s First Hard Day In The World

By: Jon Katz

Mandi And Ellen At The Mansion

If I were to write another children's book, which is unlikely, I think I would write a story imagining a puppy's first day out in the world. I was thinking about Gus's perspective today, we picked him up from Robin Gibbons, his breeder, at 11 a.m. He is eight weeks old. Up until two or three days ago, he was nursing off of his mother Hannah, who was beginning to resist sharp teeth on her tender nipples.

Some hunters and dog lovers like to get their dogs at seven weeks rather than eight because that is when mothers tend to reject their puppies, and the puppies are looking for some other living thing to connect with. Hunters want dogs to focus on them, like sheep herders.

Until today, Gus was never out of sight of his mother, had only been outdoors a few times in Robin's back yard, had always had his two siblings to play with and sleep with. He had never been alone. We came and took him away from everything he had known – the familiar smells, sounds, companions and transported him to an alien world.

This is an important time for a dog, a critical time. The next month or so is the most intense socialization period for dogs it will largely determine (all things considered) how he or she relates to people, it can cause confidence or timidity, aggression or comfort with people and other animals.

Gus was very calm this morning as we introduced him to all kinds of people and places – the book store, the Round House Cafe, my friend Scott, the Mansion residents, the people in the hardware store. He was probably in shock, but he was too busy and distracted to miss anything.

I saw he is a very, viscerally affectionate dog, easy being handled by people, affectionate with everyone he met.

He is a dog who just loves people, much like Fate and Red. We didn't really see his personality emerge until afternoon, when we sat out on the back lawn near the pasture and he joyously attacked  his stuffed octopus (Fate made a grab at it, but wasn't successful). Playing was good for him, as it is for puppies. It instills confidence and teaches the strategies they will need to live in our world.

I was very happy with our visit to the Mansion, the residents loved Gus, and he loved them. That will be an exciting chapter for me and him.

At dinnertime, we took him to Pizza Night at the Round House, we sat outside at a sidewalk table, Gus lay down by my feet and put his head on my shoe and was still all during dinner. This surprised and impressed me. He is nearly leashed trained, he walked alongside us for two or three blocks.

When we got home, we could see he was exhausted, it was around 7 p.m. Maria is into training this dog, she walked him around the yard and we put him in his crate. I could only imagine his bewilderment and confusion at being confronted with so many new things -Fate, Red, all those people, the farm, the animals here, the smells and sights and absence of his mother and siblings.

What a full plate for such a little creature.

Up to now, she hasn't had that kind of confidence with dog training, she often said she wasn't good at it. But she is. Maria is good at anything she decides to do.

I stop all water at 6 p.m. with puppies, and he has eliminated outside several times, for which we praised him extravagantly, like parents whose kids are using the potty.

Then the hard part for him, we put him in his crate, pulled the blankets around it so he can't see much outside and said good night. He is alone for the first time now, he cried pitilessly for about a half an hour, then fell asleep. I know this is difficult for many people, but I believe it is a struggle the human must never lose. Gus must be comfortable in  his crate, he will not have the run of the house for weeks, if not months, until he is housebroken and focused on his own things to chew.

That takes some work, and it sets the tone for the rest of our lives with him. As with kids, there are some fights you just can't afford to lose. If he thinks for one second we will let him out he cries, no matter how long or loud, then we are off on the wrong foot, and he will never stop screaming.

He has been asleep for an hour now, and I think that battle has been won, at least the first phase.

He must learn to be alone, and to be comfortable with himself, this may be a hard lesson for him, but not for long. Dogs are the most adaptable animals on the planet, and Gus was loved and fussed over all day long, by us and about 100 other people who wanted to meet him, touch him, hug him.

Gus is a grounded dog, resilient, alert and biddable. He may never have a harder day than today, I hope so.

This is the world he must live in, it is my job to help him make the transition. Monday, he goes to the vet to register there and meet Dr. Suzanne Fariello. Every dog in the litter goes there.

Tomorrow, we are going to spend the day with him. Next week, he will  join me and Red and Maria and spend much of several days at the RISSE refugee kids retreat at the Pompanuck Farm Institute. I bought flashlights and tick spray today. Tomorrow night, Maria and I are going to Bennington, Vt., to attend an evening of belly dancing to benefit the Meals On Wheels program at the Bennington Town Hall.

I don't think we will bring Gus to that, but Maria and I are both looking forward to it. Otherwise, the weekend belongs to us and Gus and the animals on the farm. I am very tired, so is Maria. We did well today, and so did our new pup. I think his hardest night is almost over.

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