Bestest day ever ever

IMG_20130802_074300It’s great sleeping down here in Dec’s room. He is the smallest of the people, and my favorite. I sleep on his bed or on the floor or on some giant pillow. I love being in here. Wait! I hear something. It’s my favorite person. “YERP!” Get me out of here!

This small Declan person is so responsive. Now for my favorite part of the day. I get to say hello to my favorite person. Wait! I need something in my mouth. My stuffed animal, the long one with a rope on one end would be great. Where is it? Wait, here is a bunched up sock that smells of Declan. Perfect! My favorite. Hello, hello, hello. “Rrrrrwrrrrr. Rwrrrrrr.”

Oh this is great. Hello. Hello. You want the sock? That’s why I brought it. Here you go. Now why do you throw it downstairs. That’s where I got it. Stuffed animal! My favorite. Hello, hello, hello.

Morning walk at the river.

Morning walk at the river.

Wait! Here comes the big person. My favorite. He has the big coat on. This means we go for a walk. My favorite part of the day. I have to wait first, though. I leave the warm place after he puts my favorite blue leash on, and after he says “Okay.” There it is. Let’s go.

WHOA! I have to pee. Quick to the grass. Ah, what a relief. Now we walk. What? We’re stopping? Big tug on the leash. Tight on my neck. Growl from the big one means something. I’m still trying to figure this out. Okay, we’re walking now. Cold crisp air is great! Collar is a bit tight. Whoa! I guess we are going backwards now. Still trying to figure this one out, but sure I’ll back it up. Let me know when we’re ready to go.

Now I need some more grass, need to take care of number two. Looks perfect right there. Collar tight, back it up, okay. I didn’t like that spot either, how about this one? Okay? Phew, because I was about to explode. Hey there is a good smell over here. I can’t quite reach, just a little further, collar is tight. Whoa! Here I am suddenly looking over the big person whose crouching over that poop. Waiting. Waiting. Okay we can go again.

My favorite stick at the river. Found it three times in a row.

My favorite stick at the river. Found it three times in a row.

What’s that smell? The little one? Is he out here? There is the warm place. My favorite part of the day. Back inside and smothering Declan, the little one, on my couch, the one by the window. He is pretending to be asleep. He is under a blanket. I love this game. I have to try to lick his face. And if I lick it, then I need to try to lick it again.

Whup! I hear the can opening. I smell the food. Gotta get off this couch. I just realized how hungry I am. “Sit.” I know this one. Got it. “Okay.” I know this one, too. Sniff it out. Smells like the same stuff that was in the dish yesterday. Looks like it, too. It is. Few bites. Serviceable, but not nearly as tasty as that dish I can reach on the counter. But I sure am hungry.

IMG_20131007_131522My favorite part of the day coming right up. Finish the meal and off to my couch, laying belly up. Ah. I just realized how tired I am. Running. Running. Barking. Barking. River. What’s that smell? Reminds me of those yummy treats that are round. Smell still there. Back at the river. Running. Running. There’s that smell again. And is there something touching my nose? Blink. Oh yeah. I remember. The plastic tube with white inside. That’s the smell. Jump up on the big guy. Or bark. Or pull his knee with my paw. Yep. There it is. And now the yummy treat. And now I wait. I wait. I wait. “Okay.” Where is that scent? Not here. In the other room. I can sense it. Not sure where. But it is here somewhere. On the couch maybe? Nope. Sheesh. I am hungry. And I know the yummy treat is coming at some point soon. Is it on the chair? On the shelf? Ahhhh! I can smell it. Where is it. “Rerp! Rerp!” I can smell it! I want my treat. Oh, right there! Got it. I found it! I found it. Yummy treat! My favorite part of the day.

The big people are gone. Just the smaller ones now. Normally the smaller ones are gone by now. And I’m in that place by the door. And I have a dish of water and my favorite chew toy. But the smaller people are not leaving. They are still here. I can stay on my couch. I am so tired.

IMG_20131017_185344Kids here but not here. Two downstairs and one in the room. Time for my favorite game of find what’s on the counter. No way! A bag full of round bread with seeds on top. Quiet now. Quiet. I’ll take it to room with the one kid, the small one. The one named Declan. I like being around him. He is talking to that flat screen hanging on the wall. I like this brown long furry thing on the floor. Soft. Keep quiet, though. Pesky bag. I can see them, but they are trapped. Free the bread. Freed. Soft and squishy, and so easy to throw down in two bites. Six bites of this round bread.

What else. Pantry door open. My favorite place. What? Where is the chocolate milk? And there is normally a loaf of bread on this shelf. I can smell it. But it’s not here. And the pasta! I smell it, but it is also gone from its normal resting place. That stuff is fun to eat. Crunchy and small. They disappear in the brown furry thing in that other room.

Thirsty. To the white bowl that the people sit on sometimes. Refreshing.

Waiting for Ashley to finish eating my food.

Waiting for Ashley to finish eating my food.

Whup! Glass jar with something in it that smells a lot like bacon. Yep, there it is. A bit tricky to carry. Got it. What is this metal thing on top? New challenge. Whoa, it just popped off. Cool. Now for the jar full of bacon grease. Hmmm. Hmmm. Hmmm. Thirsty. Back to the white chair. Where did the water go? “Yerp! Yerp!” Here comes Declan. He is so responsive. And suddenly it is refilled. Lovely.

Couch. Tired. Sleep. Hungry. Ah, more treats on the counter. Best day ever. The little people stay home and leave treats on the counter for me.

Sure enough

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Bear waits quietly to eat while Jelly finishes drinking from his water bowl.

The single bark came in the middle of the night. I only know if was before three in the morning. I jumped from bed after the high-pitched single bark. Through bleary eyes I saw Bear standing at the office door, looking back at me. Deciphering the scene in the dark I saw child gate blocking the doorway and thought Bear just needed to go outside. I ignored Bear and he quickly settled back down, wanting to avoid the crate that he gets placed in for being a belligerent puppy.

Bear leaps into the river.

Bear leaps into the river.

Back in bed I briefly debated the single high-pitched bark. Bear must have just needed to go outside since the gate was up. Turns out the gate wasn’t up. Not sure how much time passed, but I woke again, this time from Maggie in the kitchen, drinking juice and getting a snack ready for after her low. Not really after her low, as she just starts eating after she downs the juice. It being three in the morning, I withhold my lecture about waiting to eat the snack until re-testing blood sugar. Instead I quietly admonish myself for not heeding Bear’s signal.

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Asking if it is alright to eat, or if he should continue waiting.

Maggie stabilized and Bear spent the rest of the night on his couch. I finished the night in fits of sleeping thinking about the damage I can do to Bear’s training, and how much more quickly he could be trained if it weren’t for me.

River

On a brighter subject, the clear crisp weather has kept the river a great place to take Bear. And mid-day scent training continues.

Walking the mean paths of Riverfront park.

Walking the mean paths of Riverfront park.

Enticing treats

IMG_20131017_182855We have a better handle on what Bear consumes. He is more consistently put in the office during the day, leading to fewer loaves of bread eaten. Now the loophole is in the early afternoon when Fiona or Declan get home. They let Bear out of the room while they forage through the pantry and fridge, leaving remnants of the teenage diet on the counter. Easy picking for Bear.

Bowl of Costco hot dogs and cheese sticks a day

Bowl of Costco hot dogs and cheese sticks a day

Because Bear eats more of what he is supposed to, not getting as much cheese, bread, salami, and cookies as before, his desire to work for treats increased. The hot dogs and cheese are suddenly more of a treat than before. So now when we pull out the scent samples, the smell of hot dogs motivates Bear. He is more active and vocal, sniffing for the scent, and announcing he found it.

Resting after doing the laundry.

Resting after doing the laundry.

Bear sleeps on the couch and I walk by with a scent up my sleeve or in a pocket. He wakes himself to alert the scent, earning a piece of hot dog, at which point we continue training by hiding the scent in another room. Bear remains in a STAY until release, at which point he goes to the room I just exited. Once in the room I wonder at what point does he smell the scent. Sometimes he’ll sniff around a bit and then come up to me and paw me, or bark, or jump up on me (he has incorporated some new signals on his own).

At what point do I reward the signal? Has he gotten enough of a whiff of the scent by passing by it, or should I wait for until he really locates it, putting his nose on it? Continuing some inconsistency in his training, I keep to no rule on this. If time is short, I’ll tend to give some leniency. With a lot of time, I wait patiently until Bear finds the scent. But I am not sure either is really better. If he smells the scent, but is not right on it, shouldn’t he signal. But then how strong is that scent? It is a cotton swab inside a plastic beaker. How much scent can be wafting out of that little thing?

Bear did signal Dec the other night, so it might be working regardless of my lack of knowledge. Dec was in the tub and Bear started yapping his high-pitched annoying bark. At first we ignored it, thinking Bear was simply excited, wanting to jump in the tub with Dec since he does everything else with Dec. After his persistence, we got a kit and checked Dec’s blood sugar. Dec got a juice pouch and Bear got a piece of hot dog with a side of cheese.

IMG_20130321_065938Maybe we will get there. Middle of the night alerts may be a stretch, though. Bear sleeps well. His snoring woke me the other night. I considered getting a scent sample at that time for some middle of the night training but opted for sleep. Maybe next time.

Parvo II?

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Attempting to escape from the back of the car.

Over a year ago Bear spent five days at the pet hospital in secluded ICU recovering from Parvo. They gave him fluids and nutrients to give him the strength to recover from the attack on his GI track. And since returning from the pet hospital I’ve been sensitive about the health of his guts. I always wonder after a soft stool if there is some lingering effect on his nutrient absorption capabilities, a continual reminder that when he was three months old his intestines nearly collapsed.

But I think we’ve gotten to the bottom of the lingering effects of Parvo. It started at dinner with the family. Heather asked if we should give Bear away. She got home from work to find another butter dish broken, another spatula chewed up, and the remnants of a Ritz cracker wax-paper sleeve. We sat at the table as Heather explained the continuing issues that Bear has chewing things and stealing things off the counter.

While we sat at the table Bear lay on the couch with pieces of the butter dish attached to his collar. Not sure if he got the message Heather was trying to get across to him, but he didn’t look to happy.

I wasn’t sure how to react to Heather’s question, so I just sat quietly, listening to the kids come up with ideas to help out. I enjoyed listening to them come up with ideas to help. Before Heather’s question, the kids would join in the chorus of complaints, so hearing new solutions from the kids was a nice new angle.

IMG_20131027_163314No decisions were made at dinner, but the message was delivered. Fiona and Maggie take him on walks occasionally. And Declan puts Bear in his confined room in the morning. Prior to Heather’s question, we set alarms and timers to remind Declan to put Bear in his room. He never completed the task. After Heather’s question I put a note taped to the door reminding Dec to put Bear away. And since the question, Bear has been put away during the day.

I asked Dec if the note taped to the door was all the reminder he needed to put Bear away. He said that it was really the question about giving Bear away, knowing that his inaction might lead to placing Bear elsewhere.

ICUNow that he is being put away during the day on a consistent basis our bread consumption has been cut in half. And the number of Tupper Ware’s chewed up per week has declined drastically. We’ll need to amend our food and kitchen utensil budgets. And suddenly Bear’s intestinal health has firmed up. There are no lingering effects of Parvo, there are, however, immediate effects of consuming Dave’s Killer Bread, lunch-size chocolate milks, and sleeves of Ritz crackers.

Training

Scent training continues. There have been two live alerts. The challenge of scent training with two people with diabetes in the home remain. Now that Bear’s intestinal fortitude has been reestablished, I’ve reintroduced hot dogs for high value treats.

Now more chewed up blocks of cheese found on the floor.

Now more chewed up blocks of cheese found on the floor.

Walking on leash continues to be one of the most frustrating things in my day. I took a break from the leash, letting Bear walk off leash in the dark of the morning walk. After two runs without reacting to my calls taught me that the leash is a must. The only time he is off leash outside is at the dog park.