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Posts tagged ‘Pennykins’


We were very excited to have a brief visit from our friend Ann who scammed convinced the government to pay for some of her continuing education in Atlanta this month.  She stayed with us, so that saved taxpayer money, right??

On Saturday, all of us went to the tenth annual Howl-o-Weenie, sponsored by the fine folks at DREAM Dachshund rescue.  We suited up Penny in her brand new Dachshund Delights harness and headed over for the festivities.

Now, Penny is not what you would call a “dog person”.  She’s very well socialized with people and has never met a stranger.  In fact, every human on the planet was put here to give her a belly rub, and if you don’t believe her, she’ll remind you when she drapes herself across your feet, belly up, ready to be adored.  But dogs are a different matter.  She’s never around a lot of them, and frankly, they’re noisy, they (gasp!) sniff her butt, and just generally invade her personal space.  And yes, it’s our fault that she’s not well socialized with dogs… but really, we’re never around them and we’re around people more.

But we took her to the event with wiener dogs as far as the eye could see.  Standards, minis, tweenies, smoothies, longhairs, wires, dapples, piebalds — virtually every type of dachshund you would ever want to see was represented.  I think the best we can say for Penny was that she tolerated everyone well… unlike a couple of, shall we say “disagreements” that happened between some dogs at the event.

The highlight of the event for us was the costume contest.  I forgot my “real” camera, but I managed to snap some shots with my trusty iPhone:

These scoundrels were headed for Alpotraz

Here’s the Bride of Frankenweenie

This gentleman was quite proud of his Dr. Who costume. Truly it was better than the Dr. Who costume with the same theme right before him…

Here’s a little dachshund mermaid (mer-dog?)

The squirrel hunter and his rather long and low prey

All of this group was off to see the Wizard…

Finally, my favorite… although the human didn’t get that it wasn’t the Howl-O-Pomeranian… but I’d give it a resounding “10” (held up like Bruno)

We had a most enjoyable morning, although Penny was glad to get back home. Since she’s still on injured reserve, we took it easy with the heavy training this week and we’re still enforcing the new house rules.  We’ve only had one growling episode — during the night when she desperately wanted to go track Ann — and I was able to correct her this time which was very important to me since I’m trying to establish my place in her pecking order.  Hoping the medicam does the trick and we can get to work with another trainer very soon.

…two steps back…

After three horrible growling, snapping events in less than 24 hours, I decided it was time to take the Pennster to the wonderful Dr. Weaver at the Animal Hospital of Towne Lake to be sure that the events of the weekend hadn’t harmed her.

Dr. Weaver thoroughly examined Penny and noticed that she “tensed up”  when she got around her neck and back.  She thinks there is an element of pain there that may have been exacerbated by the dragging across the yard.   We’re going to do two weeks of an anti-inflammatory that we can apply transdermally (she’ll have it rubbed in her ear) and see what happens.  No doubt we have a behavioral issue, but there’s probably a physical problem as well.

As for the training… Dr. Weaver said while the underlying theory the trainer had was sound, the implementation was wrong, particularly with a small dog like Penny. He’ll be given his walking papers tomorrow with an explanation as to why.  She gave us a couple of suggestions to handle the problem short-term — one is to use a towel over her head when she starts growling and disorient her, then grab the sides of her head to let her know who’s boss and get her off the sofa.  The other is the use of a greyhound muzzle; we can do the correction while she’s wearing it, and she won’t be able to bite us.

When Penny’s feeling better, we have the names of three other behavioral specialists to work with.  One is the trainer that worked with Oscar when he had his little temper tantrums when he was about 6 and started nipping me.

Somehow, someway, we’re going to get this under control in a way that all of us can live with. I know that Richard and I bear all of the responsibility of the problem getting to this point… me probably more than him because I just want to love her to death.  All of us have to work on it for the good of us all.

Even after all this, I’m still crazy about my dog.

Attitude Adjustment, lesson two

Let’s just state right now that the earth is back on its axis: the real NFL refs have returned to the field, so productivity can return to the American workplace.

Princess Penny has done pretty well with her first week of training.  I’m pretty sure there were a number of puppy “WTF?” moments when she realized the ramps were down when the Alphas were out of the house and she had to be invited up on the sofa and the bed.  She’s taken to staying on her actual dog bed in the bedroom during the week when we’re not home; I actually forgot to take the ramp from the bed down one day and she still stayed on the dog bed.  She was a lot better about the playbiting and the nipping for attention, and when she did bite my hands, I used the correction technique the trainer showed us and she calmed down quickly. Only one minor growling incident that didn’t escalate.

Jerad came again on Saturday afternoon for lesson two, bringing with him the pinch collar.  I’m gonna say right up front that I know many of you have reassured me that this really won’t hurt her and will work wonders, but after Saturday’s lesson, I’m really shaken. Jerad put the collar on Penny, and we went outside to walk.

Penny’s the only dog in the world who doesn’t think outside is a fabulous place.  She’s a sofa spud, not unlike her humans, who generally spend their evenings on the sofa with computers in their laps. Penny will go outside to do her biz, but otherwise, forget it.

So, when we got outside, she immediately laid down in the front yard and refused to move, as is her typical action.

Jerad was having none of that. She was going for a walk, so he tugged on the leash and pinch collar.  Penny screamed.  I died a little inside.

He dragged her up, still screaming, across the driveway, into the road.  I kept dying.  This is when I started doubting what we’re doing.

She finally started walking, and we walked up and down the road several times with minor corrections with the collar when she’d try to run ahead. (Usually when she sees the house, she’ll start running to get back home.)

We got back in and the lesson was over,  Jerad wanted us to leave that collar on her the entire time we’re home.  I was having none of it. The collar came off.  We had a horrible growling episode trying to take the collar off, which Jerad corrected.  Then later that evening on the sofa, we had another horrible episode, which Richard corrected.

Jerad also wanted us to unblock the stairs so she could learn to climb them, but I also refused to do that.  He may know dogs, but I know dachshund anatomy, and that’s bad for their backs.

Right now I’m just not sure if this is going to work. The pinch collar goes on over her head, and Penny hates anything that goes over her head.

All I want is for my dog to come when I call her and for her to not bite me.

…in which I almost get hauled to jail…

Evidently, Atlanta Gas Light *really* wanted to get into our house for something.  We hadn’t been home when they’d come calling (really, how many 2 income families have someone home during the day during the week?), and when Richard worked from home today, he called to see what they wanted.  Evidently, they wanted to replace our gas meter.  We decided we’d call them back after October 15 when my schedule freed up some and I could be home to wait on them.

Imagine my surprise when, around 3:00, there comes a banging on the door.  I look outside (dude didn’t give me a chance to actually answer the door), and there’s an Atlanta Gas Light truck outside.  Richard went out to talk to him, and he allows that he’s got to get in the house after he installs the new meter to check the gas appliances and re-light them.  What would have happened if we weren’t home?  He said he’d have gone off with them unlit, and that was our problem.

I was aghast at the “customer service” attitude, and I went out to get his truck number.  I had started to call to complain about him, when he came to the door, and opened it.

As usual, Penny was on guard at the door, but when it opened, she went flying out.  Without collar or leash on.

I ran past the guy, yelling “You jerk! You let my dog out!”  Frankly, as angry as I was, he’s lucky “jerk” was the only thing that came out.

I managed to catch Penny (that extra weight on her has its advantages), and turned to go back to the house, when I see Gas Dude coming toward me, cell phone in hand.

He informs me that I’ve assaulted him; he’s never been talked to like that before; and he’s calling the cops.

I informed him that he’d best get back and finish his job… and oh, by the way, he was on my property without my invitation, and that’s trespassing.

He huffed back to his truck; I went in the house, called Richard to handle Gas Dude, and went in the bedroom with Penny (since obviously I was a threat) and called Atlanta Gas Light and waited for the cops.

At least Atlanta Gas Light was apologetic.  I told them I still needed someone to finish the job (Gas Dude was still in his truck in front of the house.  I assumed he was waiting to swear out a complaint).  They assured me someone would be there to finish it.  I promised I wouldn’t hurt his tender feelings anymore. (Yeah, I was a bit snarky.)

A few minutes later, Gas Dude’s boss came and went with him (and Richard) to assure all our appliances were working.  Then they both left.

Cops never showed.  I sense that this wasn’t the first time Gas Dude has had this problem.

But you don’t mess with my dog.

Attitude Adjustment, Lesson one

Today was the first visit from the trainer.  Jerad arrived at 3, after we’d had a morning out at Starbucks and the Princess had been treated to her normal weekend turkey bacon.  A quick visit to Top Dogs and Cool Critters  resulted in a new temporary harness that can be used until her Dachshund Delight harnesses arrives. We retired the dreaded Puppia harness that went over her head and upset her so much.

Jerad is a very young man, but he seems to have the credentials to be a good trainer.  He does a lot of “boot camp” training, meaning he takes the dog to his house to train for a couple of weeks and then returns a trained dog to you, and he had initially suggested this route to us… but I thought it was important that we take on this task as a pack. We humans realize we have contributed to the problem, and we need to be a part of solving it. So, our classes will be held once a week in our home.

The first big area we’re addressing is the fact that Penny thinks she “owns” the sofa and to a certain extent, the bed we all share.  Day before yesterday, Penny was on the sofa and I touched her lightly on the rear, and she arose with teeth bared, snarling, ready to take my hand off. We had to shoo her off the sofa with a pillow to keep from getting bitten.  Another big problem is when I’m sitting on the sofa and using the computer she demands attention by biting at my hands and at the computer.

Fortunately, she demonstrated this biting for attention to Jerad today when he sat down on the sofa. He responded by rolling her over and giving her a slight pinch to the neck as a correction. He did that repeatedly until she figured out he was serious about it.  She made one more lunge for his hands at which point he responded with a small squirt of Bitter Apple – right to the mouth — resulting in one unhappy wiener dog.  Of course, I was just absolutely dying.   But she settled down and lay down on the sofa beside him and stopped the behavior.  And she’s been laying quietly on the sofa with me all evening.

Our assignment for the week is to have her on a leash whenever we’re in the house with her and to get a pinch collar to use for a slight correction when she starts the growling and snarling, since that seems to be the most distressing problem that we’re having right now.  My real fear is that she’ll bite a stranger — or God forbid, a child — and it could end up badly for all of us. I’m not thrilled about the idea of the pinch collar, but Jerad assured me it was a very temporary fix and if she responded as fast as she did to the correction today, we wouldn’t need to use it for long.

We’re supposed to banish her from the sofa, but in order to see if the snarling, growling “I own the sofa” behavior is going to stop, we have to let her up here for now.  After we get a handle on that, we then remove the ramp and let her know she is allowed on the furniture at our invitation.

She’s not supposed to sleep in the bed with us — but I haven’t decided if I can go that far yet. She hasn’t acted out in the bed, and I love having my girl where I know she’s safe.  I also have to admit I cherish those quiet times when I wake up in the middle of the night and she comes to see me and we have a moment… just she and I… where I pet her and tell her what a good girl she is and how much I love her… and then she’ll snuggle up next to me for awhile.

Baby steps.  For all of us.

Beginning of a beautiful friendship

I’ve been recovering from a three month case of bronchitis.  I got sick in December, shortly after Mom got out of the hospital, and I’ve pretty much stayed sick and was too stubborn to go to the doctor till this week because I knew what was going to happen.  I knew I was going to have to take a round of steroids, because when I get sick like this it flares up the asthma and takes awhile to recover. (And I’m talkin’ legal stuff here, so don’t get the idea that I’m going She-Hulk or anything like that).

I don’t know how many of you have had the pleasure (and I use that term loosely) of a heavy round of steroids to reduce inflammation, but with me, the side effects go to sleeplessness and a nice dose of paranoia to go along with the lack of sleep since they kick your system into overdrive. I’m not going into these for sympathy, but to set the scene for what happened last night.

As many of you know, Oscar, our dachshund who passed three years ago, was my little soul mate.  I could look at him, and he knew my mood, my feelings, my state of mind and reacted accordingly.  We were connected in a way I didn’t think was possible between a human and an animal.  I’d yet to experience anything close to that with Penny.  Some of it I’m sure has to do with her age — and with the fact that she’s a completely different dog.  She’s more of an independent soul… not a cuddle bug… wants to do her own thing.

But about 3:30 in the morning, when I was laying awake because I couldn’t sleep, thinking of everything bad that could possibly happen during the next several years (remember – I said paranoia, tinged with my trademark obsessive compuslive traits)… well, suddenly I felt this wet little nose pressing against my cheek.  And there was Penny. She had decided to come see what was the matter… gave me some doggie kisses, let me rub her belly… then snuggled up right next to me (with her facing the door, of course, because that’s part of her “watchdog” duty).  She looked over her little shoulder as if to say “Relax, mom. I got this”, and then proceeded to stay with me through the rest of the night. When I finally got up because it was useless to try to get back to sleep, she followed me out to the great room and stuck to me like glue.

The behavior was stunning in that it was so different.  It was a breakthrough for us. 

Penny will be 3 next month. We’ll just say she was a difficult pup. But, just maybe, all that work is gonna give us one heck of a dog.