The RHYVALry Begins

Some days...

January 24th 2008 3:07 pm
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A spaying we will go, a spaying we will go, hi ho the merry-o, a spaying we will go. Yes kiddies, Rhyval reached the ripe old age of six months a few weeks ago and to commemorate reaching this milestone she was spayed. Muhahahaha. That's evil! I know, isn't it? She of course did not know what was happening when I took her into the vet first thing in the morning the day before her six month anniversary, only that I was relieved. It's a fine line when a toy dog hits the six month mark as they will usually go into their first season around that time and that was one thing I did not want. Thankfully I was able to get Rhyval spayed before that happened. Yeah me. Now most breeders will recommend that a female has at least one heat before spaying so that the hormones can course through their body and help with their development. Unfortunately there is sound research to prove that having just one heat increases the chances of female specific cancers by 200% hence why I now spay my females before that first heat. I would rather have a slightly underdeveloped female, which I haven't had yet, than one who has a 200% chance of developing cancer at some point in their life. Cancer is bad, right? Very bad, sweetie. I knew Rhyval was close to her first heat as over the previous week or so she started mounting Gucci in a very dominant way. This behaviour was slightly different then when she stands on Gucci's shoulders to instigate play. Both the dogs and I picked up on the difference immediately so I made the appointment and they started treating her less like a pup and more like an adult. They're acting like grouches now. They aren't as accommodating now with her and are starting to show her where her place in the pack is.

So Rhyval was taken in and the deed was done. Turns out the vet and staff were very impressed with her as she never made a peep when waking from the anaesthetic and was a good girl during recovery. Due to her past history of temper tantrums I had warned them that she might bite if cranky - luckily she never did. I don't even remember what happened. First I was awake, then I wasn't. While she was under sedation I also had the vet x-ray her hips and legs to check her growth plates. I wanted to see how far along she was. When I went in to see the x-rays I was surprised to see that her plates were fully closed. To say I was shocked was an understatement. Due to the fact that her sex hormones never kicked in I was hoping for a delay in the growth plates and thus a greater chance of her growing a bit taller, like her big sisters did. That won't be happening now. So I'll always be the shortest one in the house? Not exactly. After my mother mentioned that Rhyval looked taller after her surgery I measured her and she topped off at 10" so she at least broke the 10" mark I was hoping for. Yeah! I finally grew! Anyway, I was able to view her hips, which are awesome, and was also able to get her last canine, which I had pulled while at the vets. I hadn't been able to save many of Rhyval's teeth as she tended to drop them outside more often than not and white teeth are impossible to find in the snow. Having her canine was a big deal to me as I had never had a dog whose canine curled like a fish hook before. As luck would have it, the one I had pulled was the one that always ripped my hands apart when she was younger. I'm innocent doggonit. Go figure.

So I brought Rhyval home where she slept for a few hours only to wake up and act like nothing had happened. My Dog, I got another Abbi! Unfortunately Rhyval didn't understand that racing around the house, jumping on/off furniture, and wrestling with Gucci was a bad thing just after surgery so Rhyval had to move into her new accommodations. No longer confined to her double crate set-up, she now has the luxurious space of the kitchen with lots of room to play with her toys, a separate potty area away from her stuff, and two baby gates to bounce against when she wants out. It's so huge I don't know what to do with it all. Maybe a new sofa would spruce things up. Funny girl. It's a biotch to climb over the gates all of the time but worth it for her sake. Plus, there's the added bonus of making her more responsible for herself when concerning potty time as she now has to actually go to the pee pads instead of them being right there.

Housebreaking has been a struggle compared to all of the other dogs in the past so of course Rhyval would have to surprise me by ringing the receptionist's bell for the first time by herself the night after her surgery It must have been from a latent anaesthetic high. Ha ha. I immediately ran to the kitchen's sliding door and let her out while making a huge celebration of her newfound skill. I assumed it was a one time fluke only to be shown how wrong I was. I'm happy to report that Rhyval now uses the bell whenever she wants to go outside. 8 times out of 10 she goes out to do her business, the other 2 times it's just because she just wants to be outside. Her need hinges on how fast I can move as she will repeatedly ring that bell like an obnoxious patron as a concierge's desk if I'm not moving fast enough to let her out. Too freakin' funny. Ringing the bell is fun. Even more fun to see Mummy running over even when I don't want to go out. Yeah, I am now running every time that damn bell goes off but I can't complain. Due to her newfound skill there have been less and less mistakes in the house and I am hoping that by the time she is a year old she will be considered fully housetrained. Only 6 more months to go!

Every week or so Rhyval has exhibited a new behaviour that thrills and delights me. I've loved watching her mature as she is a source of endless entertainment. The last few weeks have been ever so. With her coming of age Rhyval is truly taking on a more adult personality than a puppy personality. Now that she has found her voice she uses it quite frequently to warn me of some strange noise without having full backup from Abbi or Gucci anymore. They're too slow on the uptake. This has also transferred to our chase game as her growls are now peppered with yips while we are running up and down the hallway. In a more open space there is less growling and a lot more barking, Dog help me. That's what I've always wanted, a dog who barks constantly while running. I'm a Sheltie now! NOT!!! Another behaviour Rhyval has adopted is her sudden possessiveness of a small stuffed poodle holding a blanket. She now considers the toy HERS and HERS alone. Well it is. She will carry it around the house ad nauseam, whining when she can't find 'the right' spot to put it down or growling when the other dogs get 'too close' to the poodle. She'll even attack the dogs if she deems their proximity to the poodle too much of a risk. Abbi patiently lets the little one have her tantrum and usually ignores her pathetic nips. Gucci will just give it right back which simmers Rhyval's indignation considerably as Gucci's teeth are a bit bigger and she knows how to use them. Gucci just can't take a joke. Luckily Rhyval's love for her poodle hasn't expanded to the other toys or that would be a major issue. It's one thing to protect a favourite toy, another to protect every toy within a 20 km radius just on the off chance you might want it later on. Now a days the toys have grown to include the metal caps off of glass bottles, hair bands, and bird feathers - the latter being a bad toy in my books. There's always an endless supply of them all.

The only other development is Rhyval's need to lick everything in sight. What was once a cute fixation has now turned into a habit that encompasses everything from skin to cloth to frozen metal. The latter has been an issue as when it drops down to below -20 celsius the tongue will naturally stick. Rhyval has left at least half of her tongue on the outside window sill now and will sport a wonderful red mask around her nose when coming in as she tries to lick the blood away. It hurts too. I don't know if it shows a lack of intelligence or not but she does it time and time again. This last weekend she did it three times within a 3 hour period. I had to stand guard to stop her from destroying the top of her tongue completely. Some days I really wonder about her. LOL

 

Finding one's voice

January 10th 2008 4:35 pm
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Well it happened. Before my very eyes my little girl grew up. As of this Saturday Rhyval will officially be six months old. Do I get a party to celebrate? Sorry sweetie, no. As she is heading into her six months on this earth many facets to her personality are still developing will others are cementing into what a Rhyval is. The biggest changes aren't so much physical. She has been holding steady at 9.5" for the past 6 weeks and her weight gain has been fairly marginal. Tomorrow she will be going in to be spayed which will not only decrease her chance of developing common forms of cancer by 200% but she might grow a bit more. What's spaying? I'll tell you later, little one. I'm hoping the spaying helps her get over 10" for agility. Yes, if she is under 10" she would be competing in the 8" division in CKC and 10" in AAC but... if I want to take her to worlds she would have to jump 14". Now that's a huge difference. So I'm vying for her to be over 10" and let the cards fall where they may. Crazy eights or go fish?

The only other major physical change has been the onslaught of missing teeth. For a while all Rhyval had missing were the front teeth. All I want for Christmas is my twelve front teeth. All canines, incisors, molars, etc were still intact. That changed about a week and a bit ago when she started spitting out teeth left, right, and centre. Due to the lack of teeth Rhyval couldn't bite as hard as she usually did - she could only gum you. I can't even hold onto the tuggie anymore. I know, that sucks. This made me and the other dogs very happy. Hey!!! The only sad thing is I haven't been able to get many teeth to save for posterity. The few I have been able to save from the dreaded vacuum aren't much different in size than Abbi's puppy teeth, which sort of shocks me. Abbi was over 30lbs when she hit 6 months while Rhyval still hasn't broken over the 5lb mark yet. So either Rhyval has huge puppy teeth or Abbi's were a bunch of underachievers. It must be Abbi for I am perfect. You wish.

The biggest changes in Rhyval over the last few weeks have involved her personality. She is truly Miss Independent now which I am head over hells happy about. I can do what I want when I want how I want to. Can't you tell? See the smile on my face? Does it look forced? Having a very independent border collie has been a blessing and a curse all in one. Now that I have a papillon who might be the same I am ready to call in the Dog Whisperer. NOT!!! Actually, I'm just going to have to change how I train Rhyval as she matures. Having a dog with her own ideas on what is acceptable makes training more of a challenge and thus more rewarding. Gimme treats and I might do what you ask. That's reassuring. This has also changed how she relates to Abbi and Gucci. No longer the young puppy, Rhyval now stands up for herself regularly when concerning her treats or playthings. Instead of giving in to the older dogs she now fights for her right to eat her treat in peace or play with her toy without it being taken. Her tiny growls are still tiny but more forceful now and the other dogs respect her. Nobody takes my things! Except Mummy, of course. When worse comes to worse, she'll 'bury' her treasure around the house so the other dogs can't get at it. Unfortunately 'burying' a treat behind a pillow isn't a very affective place but at least the other dogs wait for her to leave the room before they abscond with it.

The greatest change in Rhyval has involved finding her voice. She rarely barked while a puppy as she was either too timid to join her voice with the rest of the pack or she didn't understand the reason for the sporadic bursts of barking. That is no longer true. One day, about 2 weeks ago, Rhyval decided that she heard something out of the ordinary, didn't like what she heard, and proceeded to bark until the rest of the dogs joined her. It was the first time she truly alert barked. I scared it away didn't I? Yes, you did, my saviour. It was a big day for her and for me to experience. Since then she regularly helps the other dogs in keeping strange sounds at bay. Sometimes she joins in, other times she starts the cacophony that rings throughout the house. She has truly found her voice thus I can no longer say there is a puppy living in the house. It was a sad day when I realised it. A young adolescent is now living in the house while the puppy is no more. And so it goes.

 

Shock to the system

December 21st 2007 1:31 pm
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Now that Rhyval has officially turned five months I just had the biggest shock to my system when concerning her. Whenever I look down at this wee puppy I see a puppy still growing and developing into a hopefully well-mannered, well-rounded dog. The other day I looked down and didn't see a wee puppy but a wee dog. Who is we? You and me? The realisation that Rhyval was nearing the end of her growth cycle and that what she is now is what she'll always be, except furrier, really threw me for a loop. Gucci is a toy dog and is at the top of the standard being 10" and a little over 10lbs. Rhyval is holding at 9.25" and 4lbs so the contrast between the two is remarkable. Now throw in Abbi at 21" and 38lbs and little Rhyval is a piece of fluff when in comparison. I'm not fluff, I'm a Pap! I just shake my head at the absurdity of the mind and it's preconceived perceptions. Thank Dog Rhyval's personality is bigger than her actual size. I'm not that small, am I? Yes, you are little one.

Since the last time I wrote Rhyval has developed some new quirks to her repertoire. She has the need, the need to attack the broom whenever it is out of the closet. If it's stationary she'll go for it with gusto. If it's moving she is on a whole new plane - the intensity of which scares Gucci out of the kitchen. Must kill the broom. The real funny part is that she has no front teeth at the moment so her ability to grab the bristles has severely diminished - not that she cares. Due to the fact that she is teething Abbi has taken it upon herself to lick Rhyval's gums when they start to bleed thereby helping the healing process. At least that's my theory. And a good one too! I think. Not sure but Rhyval really enjoys the bonding time. The only thing she doesn't enjoy is when Abbi places her paw on Rhyval's head to hold her still. Poor Rhyval is no competition for Abbi's paw, which when combined with the leg probably weighs more than Rhyval altogether. It's not fair she's bigger than me. Sucks, huh?

Another quirk is probably associated with the teething process - Rhyval's incessant need to chew on snow. Mmmm. Snow. Now that she is used to the extreme cold weather her paws aren't freezing up as quickly as they used to so whenever she has the opportunity she is outside. She revels in the snow. She loves to shove her head underneath it, she loves to bounce through the really deep stuff, and mostly she loves to chew on it. If given half the chance she would spend most of her time eating snow but alas, it is cold out there and her puppy coat isn't thick enough to last more than 5-10 minutes. It doesn't stop me from trying though. That's very true!

Now that Rhyval is older her confidence in her jumping abilities has grown considerably. She regularly leaps onto and launches off of the couches, beds, chairs, laps, Abbi... anything that is higher then she is. I can fly!! My own bed is the highest out of everything she is allowed on and her little 'helper platform' has worked wonderfully. So wonderfully that Rhyval hasn't figured out yet that she can jump on and off the bed without it. What was that? Nothing, sweetie. The few times she has forgotten herself, when chasing Gucci or Abbi, she's had no issues so I know she can do it. For now though, I'll keep her in the dark to her abilities. As long as she stays wary of jumping off of my bed until she is fully house trained I'll be a happy camper. Why? Well, since you sleep with me at night your fear of jumping off the bed means you'll whine to be let down and thus wake me up so I can let you out. Ohhh. That makes sense. I think. Rhyval refuses to use the pee pads and has determined that the outdoors is where she goes. Now I'm not complaining about the fact she would rather go outside. The only issue is that if no one is in the kitchen to let her out then she'll go in the living room. She only whines when she is on the bed and no other time. Hence we've started shaping her to ring a receptionist's bell to tell us when she needs to go out. It will come with time.

Rhyval's confidence has also extended into other areas. She now routinely chases both dogs and doesn't have any fears of Abbi chasing her anymore. Being stepped on once was a lesson that stuck with Rhyval for a very long time. It really hurt. I know it did. Now the household is constantly filled with the sounds of tiny growls, from Rhyval, and scurrying of feet as the dogs race all over the place. Rhyval is a quick little sucker and can stay ahead of Gucci quite easily. Abbi has to hold back but not too much. If Rhyval's need for speed eventually crosses over to agility I'll be ecstatic. I've been encouraging her love of running by playing a chase game. She gets to chase me and I try to stay ahead of her - which is pretty hard to do in the house. As she chases me she growls constantly until I stop and then a teeny bark will come out when I try to chase her. That is the only time I get to hear her bark and only happens when she is really pumped up. If she ends up growling the whole time while on course I'll be spending a lot of my time trying to hold back from laughing - it's just too cute. Are you laughing at me again? Not yet.

As the weeks go by small idiosyncrasies start to become commonplace as new ones pop up. Case in point is Rhyval's sudden ability to cross her front paws or her need to 'bury' her bully clubs or her desire to steal everything off of my bedside end tables. New things to carry around and chew. Another is the ability to stand on her hind legs and balance like a gopher or meerkat. The latter one is especially funny to see as she uses it to spy out something of interest. She first showed this ability at a PetSmart where we bought her winter sweater. It was the first time she had been in a PetSmart so she was a bit overwhelmed by all of the treats and toys. When she wanted to see something that was out of her reach she hopped up on her hind legs, tucked her front paws against her chest, and stood perfectly still as she scanned the upper racks of toys or bones. I couldn't see it very well. I needed to get higher. I was impressed and figured it was a one time only type of deal. Turns out I was wrong. She does it at home all of the time now when we pull anything out of the cupboards and at Abbi's last agility fun match Rhyval did it to see the people and dogs coming towards her. It's cute as hell. And handy.

Training has ground to a bit of a halt as I came down with the flu and was out for the count for over two weeks. We started working on Rhyval's circle work for agility and continued with her focus along with crate games. Because her love of the crate games she has now transferred it over to any spot I place her in a sit or down. Be it on the couch or in a chair. I like Mummy's chair. It's comfy. At the fun match and the last trial of the year we were able to work on her stays, recalls, and sends with just my trial chair. Instead of a crate Rhyval held her sit on the chair, came when called, and then ran back onto the chair when told from over 15 feet away. And this was with a bunch of dogs around getting ready to run, coming off the course, etc. She was a great little girl and did awesome. Thank you. You're welcome.

She is still wary of all dogs she meets and I'm hoping that will fade as she gets older. If not then she might be like Abbi and be a bit anti-social as an adult. No big deal to me as she has Gucci and Abbi to play with. She met her half sister for the first time at Abbi's last trial - they share the same father - and didn't want to play with her which really surprised me. Considering that her half-sis was the first dog she has met who is smaller than her I assumed Rhyval would want a meet and greet. She was pushy. I was wrong and a bit of snapping happened. Rhyval is classic Pap colour where her half-sister was mostly colour with a bit of white. Even though Rhyval was quite a bit taller, despite being three months younger, her half-sister had a much longer back and considerably bigger ears. Seeing the two of them together made me glad I got Rhyval. Me too. I'd miss Abbi n' Gucci. The whole time we were at the trial Rhyval wanted to meet new dogs only to cringe and hide between my feet when they actually wanted to meet her. Those that ignored her seemed to be the ones she liked the most. Like Pearl and Trinity and Bryte. Go figure. Oh well. At least she is thriving, happy, and still a little wild child despite maturing. I hope she never loses that. Are you sure about that?

 

Sucks to be her

November 30th 2007 1:18 pm
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They say growing up is a hard thing to do and for my little wild child growing up has been a series of lessons. Some lessons are hard to take while others are fun and easy. Every day Rhyval learns something new she didn't know before which has been a wonderful thing to see. This last week has had many lessons. The first one was no matter how old you get Mummy always knows best. The jury is still out on that one. Cheeky-monkey.

Rhyval has hit a stage where stealing articles of clothing is a new past-time. Be it socks, baseball caps, or the insoles from Gramma's boots Rhyval feels the need to run off with what she's snatched. It's fun!!! Normally it's easy to do a quick swap with her via a favourite, more enticing toy. She'll happily drop her stolen item for the toy each and every time she's taken something. Last night was a bit different. For some strange reason Gramma's insoles were the best things since slice bread and Rhyval wasn't giving them up. It was mine! All mine! When I touched the insoles, and gave Rhyval her release word, she did something she's never done before - she growled and snapped at me. That wasn't a good thing, right? Correct. Needless to say she was given a lesson in humility and was reminded that I, and only I, am alpha. The moment she was placed on her back she immediately stopped fighting and started to submit. It was only two minutes later when she finally made eye contact and then closed her eyes, drifting off to sleep. Rhyval has an automatic shut-off switch that seems to kick in when she is under extreme stress. When given the choice to submit or not Rhyval is under great stress as it is against her nature. Sucks to be her. Yeah it does sometimes.

I should have suspected something was amiss that night. A few hours earlier she acted very dominant with Abbi concerning a toy. Rhyval is not dominant with her toys so seeing her fend off Abbi's attempt to take the toy was a surprise. It was mine! All mine! I guess she's feeling her oats now that she is four months old. Either that or it's because she finally started teething, losing her very first tooth (front bottom) on the 27th. It's the only one so far but I'm sure her mouth is in some pain right now as the adult teeth are slowly coming to the surface and putting pressure on her baby teeth. It hurts sometimes. Once again, sucks to be her. At least she has a lot of soft toys, bully clubs, rubber toys, and bottle caps to chew on while her teeth come in. Did I say bottle caps? Oh yeah - Rhyval's other latest quirk is the fact that she loves to carry around the metal cap from a Lipton's ice tea bottle. She can't hurt herself with it so I've been indulging her newest passion since she currently has a constant supply of the things. It makes fun popping noises when I chew it.

Winter has arrived with it's usual fury dropping the temperatures to below -20 degrees Celsius. For Rhyval this has been a harsh lesson up to this point as she has had free access to the sundeck and outside so far. It smells so gooood outside At -10 it wasn't a big deal and she happily went about her business. Now that it's colder than -20, with a wind chill on top, poor Rhyval's feet can't stand more than a minute out in the elements. Now that's not so bad when taking a pee but anything else has turned into a nightmare for her. She tries to finish up before her feet freeze but it's not happening and I usually have to rush out there to pick up a crying puppy who is lying on her back with all four feet up in the air. It burns sometimes. I don't like that. Me neither, sweetie. Now don't get me wrong, I'm not forcing her to go out. She keeps asking to go out. I even bought her some booties that fall off no matter how tight I make them. So she's stuck with just her pads until she gets older and they toughen up. Yet again, sucks to be her. I'm such a mean Mummy. Yes you are! Sometimes. Once in a while. Okay, hardly ever.

On a brighter note our training has been moving along swimmingly. The crate games have been such a blast for Rhyval that she actively jumps into her soft crate the moment I bring it down off the big crate so the lessons can begin even sooner. It's playtime! Yeah, baby! Rhyval is at the point where she will hold her sit in the crate with the door open for as long as it takes me to walk the fifty feet down the hallway before I release her into a recall. She happily bounces back into the crate once she has had her reward, be it a toy or food, and is starting to drive into the crate. Crates are good, crates are kind, crates are food dispensers. Hee hee. Because of the games we've been doing I've started to generalise them into a sit/stay or down/stay with no crate. Rhyval has picked up on this very quickly and associates the sit or down, when I'm standing, with no movement until told so. I've been so happy with her progress and I'm looking forward to an agility dog with a proper start line. Even if it is the wrong dog. You aren't talking about Abbi, are you? Yes I am, and you can tell her that too.

Our focus work has been bumped up quite a few notches as I now take her to Abbi's agility practice and use the free-for-all time to work on her focus. It's wonderful to see how she'll keep her attention on what is at hand while there are dogs barking, running, and doing equipment all over the place; sometimes within a few feet of us. New smells, new sights, new toys. Puppy heaven. Regardless of the nose level or stimulation Rhyval has been able to maintain her focus when asked so I haven't been pushing it. Thirty seconds of tugging or a minute of doing crate exercises while a dog slams the teeter down beside us is quite a feat for the wee one. I always stop before she gets tired and try to keep her wanting more. More! More! More! I always want more. All together kiddies, sucks to be her. Are we sensing a trend here? I know Rhyval is. Hmmmm - nope. Nothing comes to mind. What a surprise.

 

One huge month

November 21st 2007 3:21 pm
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It's truly amazing how much a puppy can mature in just one month. Rhyval has gone through so many changes that I don't think I would recognise her as being the same puppy. At her last set of shots Rhyval showed that her growth wasn't really slowing at all but her weight gain had - she only gained a few ounces despite growing half an inch. She currently tops off at nine inches and just under four pounds which is within the norm for her breed. Since she isn't even four months yet I'm starting to wonder how much more bigger she'll get. I'm going to be as big as Abbi Not quite that big sweetie. Either way she has lost that puppy look to her body and has a more lithe adult look. The weird thing is she achieved this new look during a five day period when I was out of the province. Coming back to a longer, taller, fluffier puppy was a shock to my system let along the new tan colouring under her cheekbone which wasn't there before. It was good to have Mummy home again.

Potty training has been a big issue. I had been warned by many Pap owners how difficult it was to potty train Paps and didn't really realise what they meant until I got Rhyval. Abbi was potty trained by the time she was Rhyval's age and Gucci was trained by ten weeks (Go Maltese, Go!). Rhyval seems to beat to her own drum. Pa rum pum pum pum. She seems to understand that the pee pads are for liquids and hasn't had a mistake in a long time. Solids on the other hand have been harder as she would rather go outside to do that type of business. More room to find that perfect spot! If she doesn't get outside then she'll go usually by the slider door leading outside. Not too bad but needs improvement. Especially considering we haven't hit the really cold bad weather of -40°. Her tune might change when the temperature starts dropping dramatically. I like the cold. We shall see.

Our shaping exercises have picked it up a few notches as she has very solid sits, downs, stands, and outs now. Shaping with random objects has been keeping her mind stimulated while teaching her to love the learning process. Balancing on cans is fun! Her impulse control has improved significantly to the point that she won't enter the house, leave her crate or the car, touch food randomly thrown at her, etc without her release word. Our crate games are going so well that she is running into her crate and staying there until called back out even when she doesn't have to go into it. Crates are good. They give food. You silly girl.

When it comes to agility we are still playing with the tippy board and the buja board along with starting to do some puppy jump grids (bars on the ground for her to run over) along with chasing/running with Mummy in our puppy classes. Despite the distraction of the other pups Rhyval will focus on what is at hand (toys or food) and is starting to associate working with distractions par for course. Crush is at class. He's sweet. The only thing that she will fully concentrate on despite the world falling down around her is her laser light. The intensity of her needing to get that red dot is quite scary at times and is reminiscent of Abbi and her toys. Due to this fact the laser light only comes out once in a while. I was able to keep Abbi from developing OCD issues and definitely don't want to develop any in Rhyval. Red dot? Where? Where? I want the red dot! Maybe too late.

The only big issue as I see it is her recall. She will come nine times out of ten when called in the house. Of course that average drops when away from the house, especially with distractions. So many sights and smells. Must investigate. Since we are now getting into winter taking her outside is out of the question and places like PetSmart aren't safe enough to have an errant puppy screaming around. It will take some creative thinking on my part and I'm hoping her recall will be as good or even better than Abbi's by the time she's a year old. Her love for tugging definitely makes things a bit easier. Especially with the new cat toy I bought her - she goes gaga over it just like Abbi did with hers so many years ago. Must kill the fuzzy rope.

Rhyval's coordination has also grown by leaps and bounds... literally. She started off by jumping into the toy box at a foot high and can now leap onto the couches and Gramma's bed with minimal effort. I can go everywhere now. The only bed she still can't get onto is my own as it is 2.5 feet to the mattress. Well maybe not everywhere. Her frustration at this fact led me to place a large back rest on the floor beside it which enabled Rhyval to jump up most of the way. Once on the pillow it's only a foot to the bed so now Rhyval has free access on and off the bed. Abbi and Gucci are always on the bed. Now I am too! She revels in this new freedom and won't stay still for more than a few moments. If she isn't leaping on/off things she is continually racing around the house either by herself or chasing/being chased by the other dogs. Her love for running is brought up a few notches when she is outside regardless of the weather. Be it minus ten degrees Celsius, windy, snowy, icy, whatever she needs to be outside at least once every thirty minutes or so. Being outside is good. Once out there she races around the perimeter of the sundeck over and over. This is always done with much growling and squealing. If Gucci doesn't partake in Rhyval's fun then barking will ensue to get Gucci going. It's not working as much as it used to. Maybe it's the pathetic sounds she calls a bark. Hey! That's not nice! LOL. Sorry sweetie.

As Rhyval nears four months of age she has moved from her baby harness to a collar. She is currently in that purgatory of being too big for her L'il Pals harness and too small for the next size up. So far things are working well with the leash and collar. The first time she felt any resistance around her neck instead of her chest gave me a wild bronco show for about three minutes. She put up such a fight that a wild mustang would have been proud. What's a mustang? It's a wild horse. Ohhhh. Eventually she relented and now walks proudly ahead or behind me. We still need to work on her walking beside me and NOT through my legs when we are both moving but that will come with time and patience.

Once upon a time trimming Rhyval's nails was easy as could be. She would hold still while I snipped each nail and waited for her reward at the end. About a month ago that all changed and now she wants to fight it as much as she can. I don't want my feet touched. Sue me. The solution was placing her on her back in my lap and tapping her feet with the nipper. For some strange reason this puts her into a semi-comatose state that lasts as long as the first nip where she'll come to. So we go through this process for each nail and it's an amazing thing to see. I have no clue why she goes limp with the nail tapping, maybe some perverted form of acupuncture, but I'm not complaining right now as her nails need to be trimmed at least once a week still. I hate having my nails done. I'm not a princess like Gucci.

Rhyval's temper tantrums are pretty much a thing of the past now. She's had a few mild ones over the last month that quickly turned into frustrated moans instead of all out thrashing and biting. This has been a dogsend as she is learning that they get her nowhere except on her back until she settles down. Can't do much when I'm on my back. Her last one was a few days ago and went from a growling 'I'm not going to' to a moaning 'I don't want to' in under 3 seconds. Once she is over her fit she shakes it off and is happy to give lots of kisses. I don't carry grudges. Her moods can be extreme but they are settling into something easy to live with as she understands what is expected of her.

She's now referred to as the wild child instead of little hellion and completely fits that moniker. Where Abbi had a serious intensity about her as a puppy and Gucci was the normal happy-go-lucky puppy Rhyval is neither one nor the other. She very rarely stays still and is a little busybody most of the time, getting into everything she can and keeping me on my toes. So much to explore still, doncha know? Once again I've been asking what I've gotten myself into. I thought for sure I'd never have a dog who demanded as much attention as Abbi did yet Rhyval is trying her darndest to teach me otherwise. The only reprieve is when it's bedtime. Rhyval now gets to sleep on the bed with me and this has worked out swimmingly. The bed is softer and Mummy's blanket is comfy. When she gets overtired her temper tantrums can come up quickly hence I've learnt to recognise before she gets to that point and take her to bed. She then proceeds to 'dig' a small nest next to me where she'll curl up and sleep throughout most of the night. Sometimes Abbi joins us and I can curl up next to her too. If she has to go potty at some point she'll whine at the edge of the bed to wake me up so I can let her down. Then we head to the potty area and once she's done we head back to bed where she'll settle quicker than I can. For me our bedtime together is the only time she truly seeks out affection and is the perfect time for quiet bonding. I'll take what I can get as who knows what I'll be getting a month from now. Yup. You never know, do you? Now that's reassuring. Dog help me.

 

A couple of weeks and...

October 18th 2007 4:23 pm
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It's been a couple of weeks and things have changed so much. Not only has Rhyval gotten older she's gotten much bigger. Within a 2 week period she gained 5 ounces again and grew one whole inch! For a medium to larger dog I wouldn't be surprised but from a little pip-squeak, I was stunned. I'm a big girl now! Not yet, sweetie. You're only 11 weeks.

As her training has progressed Rhyval is starting to show a wee bit of maturity. She will now wait 8 out of 10 times for a release word before exiting her crate. That's pretty good, huh Mummy? Yes, little one. Her 'sit' and 'down' are pretty solid now so we are working on her generalising the commands. She would only do as asked if I was seated in front of her. Now we are working on her complying when I am standing, sitting in a chair, laying down next to her, etc regardless what surface she is on or where she is. Mummy looks funny on her side. Of course this is conditional to the fact that I have food. No food, no compliance but she is still very young so I'm not too worried about weeding her off of the treats right now. I've started shaping a stand which she is understanding pretty well right now. She picked up her 'look' command very quickly. The intensity when she stares into my eyes is a wonderful thing to see. Mummy has bigger eyes than Abbi and Gucci. I should hope so!

Her enthusiasm going up and down the stairs has increased with her added height and confidence. She used to have to take a run for it when heading up the stairs - if she lost momentum then her rhythm would fumble her into the stair itself. She now can stop half way to make sure she is being followed and then continue up or down with no problems. You all take so long now! Unfortunately this leads to her getting underfoot more often which has led to her being stepped on a few times by the other dogs, let along myself. I had to start using the 'move' command which is reminding her to stay out of the way of feet and move out of the way when asked. Move means get out of there, pronto! Yes, which means you can't get hurt anymore. Isn't it nice how that works out? I guess.

The one side affect of her bounding up and down the stairs is she now considers the couch/love seat no different than stairs - something to fling yourself at or launch off of. This new development has enabled her to reach Gucci more often and be at an eye level with Abbi. The older dogs don't seem to like this new development. At least she hasn't figured out or attempted to jump off the beds which are considerably higher than the couch/love seat. Can you say broken leg? What's that like, Mummy? Very, very painful. Worse than a wasp sting? Much worse, sweetie.

That brings me to socialising. I've been taking Rhyval to our agility group's practice sessions and fun matches when we have them to help socialise the little sucker and let her experience as much as she can before she hits 12 weeks. The last practice we had Rhyval was all over the place running around amongst the equipment as fast her legs could carry her. In and out, under and over is fun! Then lickity-split she headed up the a-frame where everyone in the vicinity ran to the frame and had their hands out to block her from jumping off. Needless to say I was shocked to see her at the top of the a-frame heading down the opposite side. When she got to the bottom I gave her a treat as I didn't want to start any memories about not finishing a obstacle. I got lots of salmon. Yes, the moment she finished the treat she turned right around and once again went up and over the a-frame. Back to the other side I ran with a treat at the bottom. This continued 5 or so times until she got bored of that 'game' and came off the a-frame willingly. The amazing thing was that every time she went to the bottom she performed a natural 2on-2off (front paws on floor, back paws on obstacle). I was stunned, to say the least. I like climbing. I wanna do it again. Not until you're older. Much older.

With the limited amount of practice sessions available I brought Rhyval to Abbi's first trial back at the Garrison. Luckily it was a much warmer than normal day so Rhyval was able to be on leash most of the time exploring this new environment. Wood chips are fun to chew. Things went well until around lunch time when I was sitting out on the grass and my poor baby started crying at the top of her tiny lungs. Her shrieks went on for over 5 minutes before I could console her into a light slumber in my arms. It seemed to be her right hind leg that was causing all of the pain yet none of us could figure out why. It hurt REALLY bad. It was only until she woke up 15 minutes later that I noticed her hind foot was swollen 3 times the size of her other foot. A wasp sting was the reason for the crying and swelling. Luckily someone at the trial, a vet tech, had some Benadryl and was able to call up her work to find out the right dosage. 5 mg, about 5 hours later, and a lot of sleep gave me a back to normal, hyperactive puppy who jumped all over Gucci the moment she got home. No more pain. Free for all!

Needless to say I was traumatised by this event yet Rhyval seemed fine. So much so that when she went in for her 2nd set of shots she never even flinched an ear when the needle went in. I guess a small needle is child's play compared to a wasp sting. Luckily she had her microchip put in when she was 7 weeks old so it was just the single needle for this visit. She walked on the leash into and out of the vet's office as if she had been doing it her whole life. She handled her examination with no issues, even becoming so affectionate with her vet and the staff members that I was a bit jealous. I love you too, Mummy. Thank you, little one. So needless to say it's been an eventful couple of weeks. I can't wait to see what the next few weeks bring. Dog help me!

 

One week later and...

October 3rd 2007 3:05 pm
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My Dog, can a week fly by when there is a puppy in the house. As the household settles into its new routines things have been moving along swimmingly. Rhyval has matured so much in the last week it's amazing to see. Not only did she have a bit of a growth spurt by half an inch she gained 5 whole ounces! I'm getting big! Well maybe not big, sweetie, but bigger for sure. Her ears have become extremely expressive now and will move in all directions depending on her mood or what she has heard.

Her coordination has developed exponentially since her arrival. She now races throughout the house with Gucci hot on her heels while turning on a dime to get away, sometimes while carrying a bully club in her mouth. Mummy calls them puppy zoomies. Her rear end awareness has increased also. When we play the bouncy game on the teeter she can maintain her position on the teeter bottom without coming off most of the time. When she is bounced off she jumps right back on again, sometimes with her front paws and sometimes with just her back. I like walking to the edge of the teeter. Mommy tips it for me. Yes, she has no fear of heights so the teeter is now off limits and it'll be just the tippy board until she is heavy enough to drop the teeter herself. She is walking and balancing on thin ledges, legs, feet, etc without falling off anymore - sometimes on things that even Gucci can't balance on. It's good to be little sometimes. Isn't it?

What seems to be par for the course Rhyval is surprising me at every step, literally. At only nine weeks she has figured out what stairs are. Fun! Fun! Fun! She has no problem launching herself down them and then running up them as fast as Gucci can. It's amazing to watch her literally hop from one ledge to the other with just her hind end. The front paws seem to be only for balance at the moment. She can go up the stairs faster than I can now, dogonnit. I can beat Mummy! Congrats, little one.

We used to be able to do off leash walking around the property but now that Rhyval is confident in her surroundings she will take off at the drop of a leaf to investigate. It's fun outside. Lots of smells. Unfortunately, she can almost out run me so it's back to the leash from now on. She is starting to accept the leash more readily and only stops to dig in every once in a while. If her big sis, Abbi, is around she'll gamely follow her anywhere so leash work has been moving along well.

When it comes to basic obedience Rhyval has a relatively solid sit. She automatically sits for all treats now Mmmm, salmon, sits and waits to be let out of her crate/play pen, and will sit for attention. I've been shaping her 'down', which now has a word to it, along with developing an 'out' command to drop items. Since she now understands what 'ouch' means it hasn't taken her long to transfer that to an 'out'. Ouch. Out. What's the difference? None, it's just semantics. So it's all a trick? Only if you think it is, Rhyval. Anyways, regardless of how intense she is she will release whatever is in her mouth when now asked, except food of course. I'm only a baby. Exactly. I can't expect too much from her just yet

She is now sleeping in her crate in the bedroom at nights, instead of in her play pen, and is whining only when she needs to come out for a potty break. I wanna sleep with Abbi. Luckily she'll sleep five or so hours in a stretch so the nights haven't been that bad. It'll help with her house training and make her more conscious of her needs. Since she has been sleeping in just her crate, with no messes ever, she now uses the pee pads more readily when placed on them. Peeing is good, pooping isn't. You'll change your mind, sweetie. The fact that Abbi will randomly squeeze herself into Rhyval's crate to snuggle with Rhyval has helped with her good association of what crates are meant for. Claustrophobia? Very funny.

Now that Rhyval is even more confident than before she is starting to take Gucci on more dominantly. Gucci is still too fluffy. She constantly tries to mount Gucci's back and is doing less submissive posturing when playing with her. Abbi, on the other hand, is much bigger so Rhyval has a healthy respect for her and doesn't try to push her too much. Big teeth make big holes. Her need to constantly be either on the move or doing something is reminiscent of Abbi. The one good thing is that she does get tired after a few hours of imitating the energizer bunny and then will become a snuggle bunny.

All in all Rhyval is turning in a very driven, well rounded puppy with no fears to either new experiences or sounds along with a good personality - it's out there enough to make doggie and human friends alike without being over the top. Yeah! I'm perfect! Not quite, but close. Very close.

 

The first week.

September 25th 2007 12:01 pm
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Well. How does one start a diary documenting the training of a new puppy/agility dog? I'm hoping that this will be a way of helping me in my training of Rhyval along with possibly helping others who want to train their own dog for agility. I can't claim to know much as my first agility dog was a fluke. I took classes and trained by my gut. Mistakes were made along the way and I had to retrain quite a few things but in all in all Rhyval's big sis, Abbi, turned out to be an amazing dog. I'm hoping that Rhyval will turn out even better as I now know a few things. Sure, Mummy. Thanks for the confidence, little one. As you can see Rhyval wants to help out with this diary and give her perspective. What's perspective? How you feel about things that are happening, sweetie. Ohhhh. So how to start. I guess from the beginning.

One week and a bit ago I brought home the newest addition to the family, a seven week old Papillon puppy that I named Rhyval. Hi! I'm Rhyval! Yes Rhyval, they know that now. Though I initially thought she was white and black the two tan spots on her cheeks made her a Tri and added to her charm. I was told that she was an overachiever when concerning puppy development. She was the first out of the gate (so to speak), the first to open her eyes, the first to walk, the first to have her ears come up, etc. Not only was she the first but she achieved these milestones days, sometimes weeks, before her two brothers. By the time I got her she was considered very advanced for her age and a bit of a biotch, which her breeder loved. Temper tantrums are a norm with her when she doesn't like something or doesn't get her way. I wanna do what I wanna do! Though she was extremely nippy when I first got her she has since learnt that nipping is only allowed if it's done softly and that kissing is much nicer. Mummy's lips are soft to kiss.

The first few days were a meet and greet with the other dogs along with getting to know each other. She learnt how to deal with Abbi and Gucci and I started to figure out her personality. Both of the older dogs were at first wary of a tiny puppy in the house. Abbi is normally a very anti-social dog but Rhyval's incessant pushiness wore poor Abbi out. She now allows herself to be Rhyval's jungle gym/tug toy. Gucci was a bit put off as Rhyval ignored her most of the time. Too much hair. Be nice, Rhyval. Once Gucci started being more proactive towards Rhyval then the wrestling matches were on. Of course toys are in plenty in our home so Rhyval had a field day with those that were presented to her. Like most little dogs Rhyval has no clue she is small Am not! She will attack and play with any toy available, even if it's twice her size. Her introduction to the crate area went smoothly. She understood where she was to sleep and where she was to go potty Anywhere I want! Not exactly but you'll learn. I was very surprised that first night when she only cried for less than a minute and then settled down. She has done that ever since. Lucky me! That can change! Now, now.

Within about four days Rhyval had learnt her name and will always run like a banshee towards me when I call no matter where she in the house or outside. Mummy has yummy stuff. Yes, I use Rollover's Wild Pacific Salmon rolls as a reward. Rhyval goes gaga over it and will do anything for it. I only call her name when I have it or a toy on hand so that she always associates me with good things. She learnt to sit for treats within a few minutes and is now starting to sit on command. Within a few days at her new home she had figured out where all of the food and water bowls were and will run to any of them throughout the house to use. Her own food bowl is very important to her but she would rather drink out of Abbi's large water bowl. It's amazing she can get her head in considering that the bowl is as high as her shoulder.

A few days after she learnt her name we started leash training while in a harness. The harness is itchy. I know, Rhyval. You don't liked it that much but you're starting to get used to it. At first there was a lot of digging in the nails and not moving when on leash but after much coaxing and lots of wild encouragement she is starting to run along beside me. Our biggest practice session was when she went to Abbi's TGIF agility practice. She ran beside me for the five minute session and enjoyed it greatly. Next TGIF we will practice some more. Can't wait. Not!

From the moment I got Rhyval she has been a tugging fool. She will tug with anything but really enjoys her braided tug. Her tenacity is unbelievable at such a young age where we can spend up to 15 minutes in a tugging session. I growl when I play with the rope. Her little growl while tugging is the most cutest thing you will hear. Sometimes it's hard to tell if she is growling or if it's my stomach grumbling it's so soft but it is getting louder.

She doesn't seem to have any fears despite everything I expose her too, be it surfaces or sounds. We have walked on concrete, grass, gravel, dirt, mulch, wood, leaves, tile, lino, carpet, garbage bags, tarps, and newspaper with no reaction. She has heard spoons dropped onto tile and lino, a teeter slam, the vacuum roaring, a car backfiring, doors slamming, metal buckets falling onto concrete, etc with little reaction beyond curiosity. She has great rear end awareness already which I have been testing on tippy boards, 2x4s, etc. She can balance and walk along a thin surface like a cat which makes me wonder if she really is all dog. Now that's not nice Mummy. Sorry, sweetie, my bad.

So all in all you get the gist of what Rhyval has been like so far. I'll let Rhyval fill you in on her take of events in the next day or so. I'm sure she'll have a lot to say. Why can't I say it now? It's time for bed, little one. So say good night. Nighty night!

 
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