Thursday, July 1, 2010

Miss You

Click on the thumbnail for the bigger, better version)

Recently, I received a sweet note from a fellow blogger saying “miss you” and wondering if the puppy had me “cornered”. This post is partly to say I have missed all of you and, frankly, I am missing me. This puppy-raising experience has been quite an education. But. my friend was closer to the truth than he may have suspected. I have been cornered, in a sense.

To begin with, the challenge has reminded me why I retired from a career that I truly loved—have I mentioned lately that I still miss teaching all those fascinating actors? My days are getting pathetically short. I simply can’t go the way I could even five years ago. Of course I could take a number of shortcuts with bringing up this pup; but that isn’t in my nature. I don’t want to miss a moment of his puppiness—maddening as it occasionally may be. Moreover, I want to give him every possibility at growing into a confident, happy, and well-behaved dog.

Not surprisingly, I am also confronting, for the umpteenth time, my obsession with learning. Do you have any idea how much information is available on the new techniques for training animals? Let me tell you it will keep you busy accessing even a smattering of it. Thanks to another world wide web friend, I was encouraged, early on, to pursue the new techniques and I have the stack of books to prove it. Each tome is stuffed with post it notes marking the most delicious tidbits of information, and the stack of books continues to grow. I can’t seem to stop myself.

The upshot of what I get from my crash course is that the old “yank and crank” methods (as one of the authors puts it) have been left in the dust and positive reinforcement, shaping, luring, marking (No! not that kind of marking! Pay attention, now!), and rewards are the new currency.

Since the new philosophy squares perfectly with the approach I used in teaching for several decades, I have plunged headlong into this without reservation. My enthusiasm has resulted in the contribution of a small fortune to Amazon. Furthermore, I have belatedly discovered YouTube. Before Galen came into our lives, I could have listed the YouTube videos I had viewed on my fingers—perhaps a toe or two. Now, you will find me, at least once a day, soaking up tips from training videos produced by people who work wonders with their canine companions. What pleasure I have gotten from immersing myself in a world I had never visited. And, I haven’t even gotten into the dog agility thing. That’s a small universe of its own.

So, now you know why I have been such a slug when it comes to visiting and posting. I have been all about preparing and shopping for treats (rewards), studying, and testing theories in my very own little puppy-training laboratory. All this besides the fact that I have to take Galen out what seems like 120 times a day. Each visit to the yard requires constant supervision, since he would make a tasty morsel for the coyotes that roam our area. I have days when I wonder why I’m doing it all when it’s so challenging and days when I’m exhausted by sunset (getting up and down off the floor is a lot harder than it used to be). Still, I haven’t played so hard and laughed so much since I was five! Dogs really are gifts from God.


  1. Pets are wonderful gifts. They require a lot of work to take care of, but they're wonderful companions to come home to!

    Welcome back online :)

  2. Rakesh - Thanks for the welcome back. He is indeed a joy and brightens our home.

  3. Your post is wonderful. Yes, we do miss you out here but know you are living life to its fullest.

  4. Monte - You are so kind. I miss all of you. I have been a virtual recluse for these almost eight weeks. But, soon Galen will be out of the most obvious part of the puppy stage. I will have a great deal of catching up to do.

  5. Galen continues to be the very definition of cute and you definitely picked a fitting name for him -- he looks like a Galen. Dogs are so much like children in many ways...except they're easier to house break. ~grin~

    Have a wonderful 4th of July weekend!

  6. Earl - I hadn't thought he could get any cuter, but he doesn't seem to have hit a turning point yet. Regarding his name, we thought a name that meant "small and lively" was intended for this pup. Mellow he isn't. By the way, thanks for the encouragement on the housebreaking situation, Earl. :) We are making headway, but he spends all free time in his ex pen. Not taking any chances.

    Happy 4th of July to you, too.

  7. Paul (Lester) has left a new comment:

    (Paul, sorry, Blogger dropped the ball on this)

    Well, no doubt that you have come across The Dog Whisperer, Cesar Milan, He has lots of free information on his site and he has his own show. It's good to hear that you are enjoying your new friend. Sounds like he's got a good buddy, too!

  8. Paul - I have seen his work. Although I identify more with Victoria Stilwell's approach for training, if I encountered a viscious dog in an alley, I might prefer to have Cesar alongside me.

  9. I know about nothing about dogs, but we have cats. They are much easier to train, probably they are more concerned with how to train us.

    On the absence side, I for one know how it is to turn off Internet a longer while. Nothing really changes, most of us are still here, doing our things that we enjoy and writing about our experiences and life. It doesn't hurt to take a break and do something else, to gain new learnings and perspective.

    I hope you have a really good time with this little puppy. Did you know that Galen means Mad in Swedish, to continue on Earl's prediction of what to come? :)

  10. Hi Ms. Anita--

    Just checking in. I fell off the face of the earth for a bit myself. Just wondering how you are doing. Your new addition is a cutie pie and I think we should have some new pictures.

    Hope you are well.

    Mary Ann/qpb

  11. Ove - Your comment has provided many a chuckle in our household. If you saw Galen when he is running off some steam, you would certainly agree that "mad" is a fitting handle for this pup.

  12. Mary Ann - Thank you for visiting. Maybe today I can say a bit about my long absence. The cutie pie is, by the way, still a joy, but not many new photos.


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