Saturday, July 23, 2011

Maybe there is progress

Other people tell me that Teddy is making progress, but I don't see many changes in him anymore.  Except... we may be making progress in his fear of thunderstorms.  Last night we had a terrible storm that lasted 2 hours.  Thunder and lightning bad enough to wake the dead.  But I've been working with Teddy since I first realized he was scared of storms, and I think our work is finally paying off.  When a storm is coming, I get his favorite toys out and start playing with him.  That works for 10 minutes or so, until he realizes that there is a storm outside.  Then I get the treats out, and feed him small bits of treats for several minutes.  Sometimes I make him work for his treats, doing sits, downs, and stays, and he keeps his focus on me (and the treats) and off the storm.  A friend gave me a travel crate, and that has helped too.  After we're done with our play and our treats, I put the crate by my feet, cover it with a blanket, and put Teddy in the crate.  And he goes to sleep!!! So last night, at 2:00 in the morning when I woke up to the storm, I got Teddy's calming treat (a natural supplement that takes the edge off his fear, like a cocktail for humans.)  I gave him 1 1/2, and gave the other half to Ranger.  I put the crate near my bed, but he wasn't ready to go in it yet, so I put him on my bed with Ranger, who of course wasn't the least bit concerned about the storm, which I think also helps Teddy.  Both dogs curled up next to me, and Teddy didn't seem to be too scared - no panting or pacing.  He even put his head down on the bed!  After awhile it got too warm for him, so he moved away, and I decided to put him in the crate.  And he stayed there and went to sleep!!  What a difference from the dog of earlier spring storms, where he would pace around the room and under the bed, and pant like he ran a marathon.  I think it's a combination of our work and the calming treats.  It's just so nice to see him relax enough to go to sleep.  Maybe I should take a calming treat - I was up for the next 2 hours!

Monday, July 18, 2011


A friend just pointed out that it's been almost a year since I last posted.  I went back and read some of the posts, and was surprised how little has changed in a year - I could have written last year's post on the 4th of July this year - things were the same, except that I have learned to control my temper!  Teddy, while he has made huge strides since I first got him, hasn't changed much in the last year.  He still cowers when I pick him up, still is scared of thunder and fireworks, still hates being held.  The only change I see is he is less afraid to approach new people.  But basically Teddy is what he is, and I don't expect huge changes anymore.  Now if I can just get him to stop using my back door as a teething device!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Range

My sister recently told me that she likes Teddy more than Ranger.  I sometimes feel that way as well, but I'm hard pressed to say why - he still won't sit on my lap, flattens himself to the ground if he thinks I'm going to pick him up, and doesn't pay attention to a word I say (unless the word is treat or outside.)  Although Teddy still follows right on my heels wherever I walk, I don't always feel like he and I are on the same planet.  Or maybe we are on the same planet, but not in the same country.  But he is so adorable and needy and helpless that I can't help falling in love with him. 

Ranger, however, was very easy to love from the beginning.  He was a puppy and therefore cute and adorable, and smart as a whip, so it was easy and fun to train him.  He listens to every word I say with his head tilted to one side, and seems to understand exactly what I mean.  He knows my routines and my habits better than anyone - sometimes I feel like I don't need to say a word as he knows what I'm going to do next.  So I feel disloyal to him when sometimes I prefer Teddy.  I owe many of the good things in my life to Ranger.  He has gotten me out into the world.  It's very easy as a single person to cocoon yourself in your house or in your work, but Ranger has helped me to stay involved in the world.  He helped introduce me to my neighbors and meet new people on our walks and through our agility work.  Without him, Ginger, Ike, Gracie, Ava, Teddy, and Duffy  might have had very different lives.  He's always a good conversation piece - if I don't know someone well, or don't have anything else to talk about, I can always bring up Ranger.  He also is good at filling my time - he loves a good walk or a trip to the store, and there is usually some dog event every so often that he enjoys going to.  He also has helped keep me involved with my family - everybody loves him, and I don't dare show up at a family gathering without both dogs.  So I guess I'm feeling a little like a mother who just had her second child - it's not that I don't love Ranger as much, it's that my heart has gotten bigger to hold the love I have for both of them.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Thunder and lightning

Having had water issues with 2 different houses, I always dread summer storms.  Now that I have Teddy, I have even more reason to dread storms - thunder and lightning.  Ranger has never been bothered by thunderstorms, but Teddy is scared senseless.  He paces and pants, and wants to be touching me, which is something he never does under normal circumstances.  When storms happen during the day, I usually create a cave for him by draping a blanket over a chair, and he lies underneath it, feeling safe and secure.  At night, however, lightning is more visible, and thunder is very loud in my second floor bedroom, so a cave doesn't always help.  However,  my dog guru, Victoria Stillwell, suggested rubbing a dryer sheet on a dog who is afraid of storms, as it helps reduce the static electricity they feel.  I've been doing that with Teddy, and I think we are making progress.  The last few storms he has been better.  Last night, he was under the bed, where he frequently sleeps, storms or no, and when the storm started, he came out to sit by my side of the bed.  I reached down to pet him and he went back under the bed, where he stayed for the rest of the night.  No pacing, no panting, no burrowing under my sheets.  I don't know whether he actually slept, but I know I did!

Friday, July 23, 2010

The return of the Flippy Flopper

One of Ranger's favorite toys is a Frisbee call the Flippy Flopper.  The toy lasts only a few months before it is destroyed (Ranger thinks his toys are live animals he must kill, so toys don't always last long in our house) but in the past, I was always able to stock up on the Flippy Flopper.  However, sometime last year, the only store that carried it STOPPED STOCKING IT!!!  So the Flippy Flopper limped along, until it was no longer safe for the dogs to have, and I reluctantly had to throw it away.  It was even a toy Teddy loved.  I don't know what is so special about it, but I think there must be something like crack for dogs sewn into the fabric.  Teddy will chew it for hours, and Ranger will 'kill' it for a very long time.  I found a frisbee that looked just like the Flippy Flopper, and bought several of them.  However, when I gave them to the dogs, while the enjoyed it, it wasn't with the same obsession as the Flippy Flopper.  Earlier this week, someone told me they saw the Flippy Flopper in a pet store, so I quickly went over there, and lo and behold - THE FLIPPY FLOPPER!!  I bought all 4, and told the owner she had to keep these in stock for me, as they are my dogs favorite toy.  When I came home from work, I took the toy out of the bags, and Ranger's ears immediately perked up.  He remembered!  He was jumping all over me to get to his long lost friend, and of course, Teddy imitated him, not really knowing why he was doing it.  I took them both outside and threw one frisbee for each of them, and I wished I had recorded the moment.  The joy on their faces!  I went back inside to get my camera, and hopefully I'll have some video loaded by this weekend.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Teddy's magic chair

I've had Teddy for 18 months now, and he still is not comfortable sitting on my lap, EXCEPT for when we are at my sister's house, sitting in her recliner.  I'm not sure what it is about the recliner, but it is the only chair in the entire world that Teddy will willingly jump up and sit on someone's lap.  I really have no idea why - it's a nice soft leather, it rocks gently and swivels (which one would think he wouldn't like) and it belongs to my brother-in-law, who Teddy runs from.  I guess it's all part of Teddy's mystery, along with his attraction to my liquor cabinet and his fasination with my cannister vacuum.  Some things we'll never have the answer to!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Ranger is a bully

Every morning after our walk, Ranger is full of energy and is ready to play, and Teddy still needs his cup of coffee to get going.  And every morning the same thing happens - Ranger jumps all over Teddy, trying to get him to play, and Teddy ignores him. This starts as we walk up the driveway.  I always take their leashes off when we are one house away, to give them a little freedom and to help train them to stay with me, which they always do.  As soon as we get to the driveway, Ranger starts jumping all over Teddy, growling at him (in a playful way), and just generally being a bully.  Teddy just keeps walking along, ignoring the dog that is doing everything he can to get Teddy's attention.  It continues in the house.  Poor Teddy tries so hard to climb the stairs to get to his water bowl, and Ranger tries everything to stop him.  Finally Teddy will make it up the stairs, and Ranger is hot on his heels.  After a few minutes of grabbing Teddy by the neck, jumping on him, growling at him, Ranger finally gives up, and lays down on the couch in defeat.  He wants so badly to play in the morning, and Teddy is just not a morning dog.  In fact, Ranger gets up around 5 and jumps into bed with me.  He sniffs my face, to make sure it's really me, and then goes back to sleep.  Around 6:30, he heads downstairs to look out his window, waiting for us to come down for our walk.  Teddy, however, is still snoring away when I get out of bed, and would probably sleep until noon if I let him.  Poor Ranger.  He just wants to play in the morning, and Teddy is not at all interested.  In other aspects, their relationship is good, so I guess if there is going to be a problem, this is not a bad one to have.