Our house is noisy.
Well, our house is normally noisy, but this past weekend, especially so.
Gomer has much to say, particularly about anyone playing without him.
Plus, two lovely ladies moved into the puppy room on Saturday. They are surprisingly quiet, but their movements are monitored by the other three canines in the house, and their fondness for squeaky toys pushes several of those canines over the edge.
The dawn chorus is really something. Yesterday Brady remarked that Gracie has a very nice quiet bark. That’s the point we’ve been driven to—we qualify all of the barking.
Frankie is LOUD. For such a gentle guy, he sounds ferocious.
Gomer is shrill. His barks are laced with excitement, he just cannot miss out on any party.
Which leaves Gracie (who initiates almost every choir rehearsal). Her bark is low and steady and I’ve begun to wonder if she doesn’t just start barking to get the other dogs in trouble.
Okay, okay, I’ll tell you about the new puppies! (it’s always about the puppies with you people!)
If you were following along on the OPH website, you probably thought I was getting chocolate lab puppies. No worries, I did too.
These girls are not chocolate lab puppies. My best guest would be black lab mixed with something a bit more excitable and more narrowly built, with lovely long legs – maybe border collie? They are seriously happy little girls who LOVE people and will step on each other’s toes and heads to get to any visitor.
Once in your arms, though, they melt into happy dolls who cannot stop licking your face. Here’s a not so great picture of me carrying Uptown Girl from the transport van to my car and trying to avoid the face bath I was given upon introduction.
The mystery of these girls continued when I finally had a moment to sit down and look at records. The puppy pictured in the records for Oh Sherry was a puppy I’ve never seen before. It was an adorable chocolate lab pup – suspiciously shaped like my girls, but without all the gorgeous chrome (white markings). I don’t know who she is, but she’s not at my house.
The puppy pictured in the records as Uptown Girl was actually Oh Sherry. It was easy to see that from the white toes and while they look almost identical, their faces are definitely different and that was not Uptown Girl, that was Oh Sherry.
What to do?
Jen, the OPH volunteer with the microchip scanner gun will be paying a visit soon to help sort out the mystery. Meanwhile, I’m going with the names they had upon arrival. Meet Oh Sherry –
And Uptown Girl, or Brinkley, as we’ve decided to call her. (If you don’t understand how much sense that makes, you definitely did not come of age in the 80’s.)
Sherry is a miniature version of Schuyler, the momma of my Hamilton pups. She even has the white slash marking on the back of her neck.
Eery. She seems equally as sweet as Schuyler too.
Brinkley’s fur is a little fuzzier than Sherry’s and her ears are longer. She is the quieter of the two and generally follows her sister’s lead.
I’m hoping to get them both outside later this week for pictures (as well as Gomer) with the best ‘black dog photographer’ I know. Watch for them on the Another Good Dog facebook group. It takes a special skill to photograph black dogs. Here’s evidence that I don’t have it:
Speaking of Gomer. He is a little marvel.
He arrived as a whirling dervish and I thought, “Oh no, here we go, this pup will be here for months.”
He clearly thought he was in charge of his world and everyone in it. A little Napoleon, this responsibility severely stressed him out – his eyes darted everywhere, his feet were constantly dancing. He raced from one place to another, tongue out, panting.
When I first put the leash on him, he attacked the leash clearly identifying it as a threat. It took us ten minutes to go twenty feet because I’m the kind of leash walker who will not be dragged. He pulled, I stopped and waited. He pulled. I didn’t move (he’s only 30 pounds thank goodness.) He pulled and pulled and lunged at the leash, shaking it back and forth, yanking backward with all his tiny might. Eventually, he glanced at me, let go of the leash, and came to sit by my side. We took a few steps, he lunged forward. I stopped. Repeat adnauseum.
The next time I took him out I first put a head collar (gentle leader) on him. He raced in every direction only to be flipped back toward me when I didn’t follow. He threw himself on the ground doing summersault after summersault trying to rub the collar off. Finally, he stood up, shook his whole body and commenced walking nicely on the leash.
On that first walk, we repeated the leash protest dance multiple times, but the next walk there were only a few fusses, and by the third time out he walked beautifully. And this morning we walked without the head harness – perfect manners with only a collar.
This is a smart pup. He figures things out super fast. I always thought Gala was one of the smartest dogs I’ve encountered, but Gomer’s got her beat. Crazy clever little guy. He’s more than willing to do what’s expected of him—he just needs to know what that is.
He’s responding beautifully to his shut down. Textbook. I wish I’d taken video at the beginning because his turnaround has been remarkable. He’s calmer, less frantic. He doesn’t barrel out of the crate like a rocket. He goes in nicely for a treat.
The first time I gave him some free time in the kitchen he was manic. Racing around, jumping at everyone, pawing at the counter, diving at the doors and windows. In less than a week, he’s a different dog, content to play with a toy (or play fetch if there’s a willing participant), watch out the window, or shadow me around the room as I prepare meals. I’ve yet to catch him lounging, but he’s not much of a lounger. Life is just too exciting.
I was worried about introducing Gomer to Frankie because the first time we tried to take them out for a walk together, Gomer spent the entire time lunging at Frankie like a lunatic, only to be forced into a twirl by his head collar. He growled, snarled, foamed at the mouth. Frankie raised his eyebrows at him and then proceeded to ignore him for the entire walk. Gomer raced at him every time there was slack in the leash or Nick wandered towards us with Frankie. The leash would halt his progress and he would turn back at it (picture smoke coming out his ears) and pounce on the leash knowing it was the cause of his frustration.
At home though, when the two of them inadvertently ended up together in the same room, they quickly became happy playmates. Gomer has great endurance, but Frankie is fairly good at letting him know when enough is enough.
Every time Gomer approaches Gracie, she snarls at him and he runs away. He’s like the annoying little brother that both Gracie and Frankie have already learned how to put in his place.
One thing I know is that the family lucky enough to land Gomer will have a lifetime of entertainment. This is not a boring pup. His athletic body and busy mind could definitely learn just about anything. He is a serious people pleaser and while his excitement can momentarily overwhelm you, his affection will win you over. Not everyone has always been patient with this precocious little guy, he hits the floor at the sound of any raised voice. He is small and mighty, yet fragile too.
I know this post is dragging on long, but I have to share one more vignette of Gomer’s shutdown.
Gomer does very well in his large crate, but if he senses he is missing out on something he will commence whining. The whining can build to quite a crescendo. If we ignore him, he eventually stops, but sometimes that isn’t easy, especially if you’re in the room with him.
His crate is in the kitchen next to the table where over the weekend my son Brady and his friends were playing an incredibly complicated and lengthy game they have been developing for several years called Ultimatum. These games can literally run for days at a time.
I figured this was perfect—Gomer would have company and entertainment during his afternoon naptime. I let him out of the crate for a bit late in the afternoon so that he could properly welcome his new friends, but otherwise, he was an eager spectator, largely ignored no matter how hard he tried for their attention.
At dinnertime, Gomer was back in his crate (all the canines in this house dine solo). He finished up in record time as usual and then began insisting it was time to get out of the crate and join the game of Ultimatum (maybe all he’d figured out the rules after all that watching – I’ve been listening to it for years and still have no clue). He commenced whining.
Nick and I were in the kitchen discussing dinner possibilities. We ignored him.
The boys ignored him.
He upped his game to not just whining, but barking, interspersed with lengthy moans.
The guys just talked louder.
The level of noise in the house became comical. Nick and I had to resort to hand gestures as we finished our dinner preparations.
When Gomer finally took a breather, I gave him a treat and thanked the boys. They had no idea why.
I said, “This is exactly what he needs.”
“To be ignored?”
“Yup. He needs to learn that he can’t boss everyone and that yelling louder will not get him what he wants. It’s actually really great to have you guys right here, in sight, ignoring him as he yells.”
They shrugged and went back to their game. We ate our dinner out on the porch.
By the time we came in, Gomer was quiet, but watching the boys, tail wagging. He looked up at me as if to say, “I’m good, right?” I let him out and he and Frankie commenced wrestling until he wore Frankie out. After that, Gomer found a squeaky toy and spent fifteen minutes doing battle.
All this happy pup needs is a little structure, plenty of exercise, and somebody to love.
He’s that easy. And so worth it.
Thanks for reading!
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COMING AUGUST 2018 from Pegasus Books and available for preorder now:
2 thoughts on “Progress Can Be Noisy”
Love the Gomer videos. He’s super cute and the two black lab girls are adorable! Any update or word on Gala? I do miss seeing her sweet face.
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Word is that Gala is still doing great in her forever home. I miss seeing her sweet face too!