Friday, March 31, 2006

18 - 19 Weeks

I imagine Savvy has had a pretty stressful few days. Earlier this week we were all over at S.'s place playing with all the dogs; Ted, Roger, Darby, Arlo, and Lady. Everything was going great until Savage decided to investigate some things hanging on a rack of pegboard and impaled his little nose on a metal peg. Immediately he started crying and bleeding all over the place. Immediately I started crying, S. ran for paper towels, and Savage started sneezing. After a few seconds of me holding the paper towels over his nose to stop the blood, my puppy began trying to eat them. So I figured he was okay, but it was a bit scary.
Then the next day we drove into town and I took Savvy out to run around on the point in the harbor. Tourists usually bring their dogs out there to roam, also, so we got to meet a really friendly Australian Cattle Dog. A local man brought his Lab/Golden Retriever mix out to chase tennis balls in the parking lot, and the dog seemed a little suspicious of the puppy. Even so, I let them hang out together while I chatted with the man. After 10 minutes or so, Savage decided to pick up the lab's tennis ball, and all hell broke loose! The lab grabbed him by the neck and threw him on the concrete, nipping and growling. Savage was scared to death, howling and peeing all over. Without time to think I grabbed the lab by the scruff of the neck and tried to pull him off, yelling and screaming.This probably wasn't necessary, since the lab had already taught Sav a lesson, and let him go. But my poor little dog came over to me shaking, and just stood and looked at me and cried for the longest time. I hugged him and he just tried to be as close to and protected by his mom as possible. I checked him all over to see if he was injured, and walked him around a bit checking for a limp or anything, but physically he was fine. He avoided the lab until we left. Well, then since he was covered in his own pee, my car smelled terrible all the way home. Since then I have aired it out and sprayed Febreeze on the upholstery. The whole episode was extremely frightening to me and Savage.
The good thing is he recovered in minutes, and happily joined his familiar puppy friends without trepidation later that day. He also spent time this week with my friend R.A.'s 2 year old female lab, Gabby, climbing snowbanks and running around in the mud. The weather is getting warmer and wetter. My little dane has only been out in very light rain once so the heavy rain we're getting now was overwhelming to him. A few nights ago I was at work and R. called and said "your puppy won't go outside". He saw the rain and heard a little thunder and was standing in the doorway barking like a maniac at the weather. R. was laughing his ass off. This morning I took him for a walk in lighter rain (no thunder) and he did well. We found some huge mud puddles and he splashed around in them chasing sticks. His beautiful coat gets all spiky when he's wet, which I think is adorable.
Yesterday when I took off his ear-tape, his ears only stood for a matter of hours, which is a big change from last weeks 7 hours. I'm thinking that his teething is robbing calcium from the rest of his body right now, which is why the ears are so floppy. At least I hope it's that and not my fault somehow. I'm hoping that the progress we've made so far with his ears is going to continue. He looks so handsome with upright ears. Of course he would be handsome anyway, but I've always loved that classic dane look.
I put his Drs. Foster & Smith Classic dog bed in his crate and took out the divider, so now he has the full 54" x 36" floor space. And he's beginning to need all that room to stretch out. At 4 and 3/4 months old he is now 65lbs! At first he didn't understand why his house's floor was so bouncy, but quickly realized how comfortable it was. I crawled into his crate to see how the bed felt and that's when R. and I realized that Savage does not like people invading his personal space. If I go into his house he runs in and tries to move me out of his way. Because it was so funny, R. and I both squeezed into it and Savage paced around outside, all worried and anxious. I felt sorry for him so we stopped playing that game. The confused look on his little face, though, was priceless!

Thursday, March 23, 2006

17 - 18 Weeks

A few notes about training and discipline: Now that my work schedule has gotten back to normal, Savage and I are trying to get in at least two 20 minute walks a day. The only problem we're having is that in the mornings he is so wired that walking on a leash is a nightmare. I think he really resents being held back, and is constantly trying to eat the leash. This doesn't make for a very peaceful outing. When he's excited and I let him off-leash he sometimes gets into this habit of nipping at my jacket sleeves and legs. I was hoping that he was getting over this phase, but apparently it's going to take more time. Thank god that he gets enough exercise playing with Ted and Roger, and also just running around the house. I now realize the importance of a big fenced-in yard, because we have to walk for a bit before I can let him run without a leash, and let me tell you, when he gets in this mood, walks are not very fun for either of us. The house plans R. and I made for our new house (hopefully completed this summer) include a huge fenced-in area, dog doors, ample space for his crate inside, and lots of floor space for him to range around indoors. When I bought Savage, I knew that a fenced-in yard was pretty necessary but figured we could wait until summer. Now I'm realizing I should have planned for even a temporary fence system at the place we're living now. In any case, Savage is getting a good amount of exercise and play, but it will be easier on both of us when we finally move to our new home. Other than that, he's been behaving very well. His chewing obsession has become concentrated on his toys rather than R.'s hands, for the most part, and he's learned that "no means no!" as far as nipping at other people in play. Since he's been with us, I've left the kitchen garbage can where it has always been, and have scolded him every single time he's nosed into it. I want to make sure he knows that garbage is off-limits, no matter what. For the last month or so he will approach the garbage and stand still, checking to see if anyone is watching, before he moves any closer. As soon as he touches it, I say "no" loudly, and he backs up and looks at me like "where did you come from?". Then I call him and take his mind off it. It is working great now, but took a while for him to resist. When we have dinner I used to put him in his crate in order to discourage begging for food. Now he will check out what we're eating, but after a reprimand, he moves into the living room to take out his frustration on his toys. He seems to be "getting it" but it's hard to get everyone that visits to treat him the same as R. and I do. People are usually inclined to cut puppies a lot of slack, letting them chew on their fingers, or eat from their plates, so I hope Sav isn't getting too many mixed messages. All in all, Savage knows good from bad, right from wrong, but being a puppy, wants to stretch all the boundaries. As I read over this, it sounds like I'm being a dictator with my dog, but in truth, Savage is generally happy-go-lucky. But he will also grow up to know that nipping is not allowed, garbage is not to be touched, and someday, walking on a leash is FUN! I'm crossing my fingers.

Monday, March 20, 2006

We just spent a few days at my family's resort up north. Savage had a spectacular time just being a dog, playing with the other pups, sniffing around and exploring. At 17 weeks old, he is getting pretty big to ride in front of anyone on a snowmobile, but he's now nice and relaxed about it, and the weather has been nice enough that we don't need to wrap him up in a blanket. When he's riding with R. he feels that he needs to keep an eye on me and my snowmobile, so he has to try to twist around and find where I'm riding at. He's still startled when the engine starts up, but then realizes we're going on an adventure and tries to climb right up onto the seat (which he still needs help with).
He's getting more comfortable with the other dogs - Baylee and Petey (brittany spaniels), to the point that he tries to assert his dominance over them. Sometimes this works his way, sometimes he gets a sharp bark to put him in his place. But I trust them playing together. He needs to learn "dog-speak" as well as human commands. Bayshek the shepard is a different story, more moody than the others, and I have not let Savage even meet with him unsupervised yet. He is not a "dog's dog" and doesn't like puppies as a rule, so that's something we will have to address when things are more relaxed and quiet.Even so, I'm in no hurry, and Sav has other puppy friends to hang out with. My parents' dog, Brisco, is a husky/springer mix. While I'm allowing Savvy around him (supervised, of course), I'm not letting my puppy try to play with him, since Brisco has made it clear that he wants nothing to do with him. My dad says Brisco is a "cranky old bachelor" and he gets insanely jealous over other dogs. I do not trust them together and probably never will. Ted the dane, on the other hand, continues to be best friends with Savage, and I can't wait for Sav to get the same size so I'm no longer worried about playing too rough. Savage does seem to be setting his own boundaries with Ted, and they understand eachother well. This promises to be a healthy, life-long friendship between them. Ted's owner's rottweiler, Roger, supervises play sessions with the two danes, but is much too reserved to take part very often. My little dog occassionally hangs out with other dogs, but these constitute the main gang.
Savage got his distemper vaccination a few weeks ago.No difficulties or complications, and the puppy seems healthy (and hungry!) and happy. Today he got his final dose of roundworm treatment. I will bring in another stool sample to the vet's office in a couple weeks to see if he's clear. I only noticed worms in his poop once, and that was weeks ago, so hopefully he's back to normal. The melting snow in the yard is exposing little "puppy land-mines" everywhere, but I'm assuming that's from long enough ago that they are not a re-infection threat. And Savage finally found a place to the side of the yard that he prefers as a toilet, so his bathroom habits are easier to monitor and clean up after.
Now that I've settled on an ear-taping system that is reliable, we've been taping up for 7 days, and off for however long it takes for his ears to begin drooping. I realize some people think it's healthier to leave the tape off for a day or so, but I see no infection or irritation, and I'd like to make sure that on his "day off" his ears don't have a chance to get used to being down. This system is working exceptionally well, in my opinion, and yesterday he had seven hours of awesome ear upright-ness before the tips started falling. His appearance without tape is so striking and impressive. Every time I'm wondering if the ear-cropping decision was too much of a pain in the butt I only need to look through his un-taped pictures. A dane, even at 4 months old, is certainly the most noble-looking breed in the world. In my humble opinion, of course, but just look at the pictures!!
We're beginning to take longer walks, and as snowmobile season winds down we will be exploring the un-used snowmobile trails. Savage has a lot of energy, but also just crashes on the futon when playtime is over. Being at my family's place really wore him out, after spending two days following the brittanies around and meeting all the family. I'm making up exercises and games to try to stimulate his mind as well. I'm amazed at the process of teaching his last trick. Let me explain: whenever we go through his commands (come, sit, shake right, shake left, down) he inevitably ends up in the lying down position, at which point he gets lazy and tries to do all the tricks again while lying down. So I worked for about 7 minutes with him to teach him "up", which would be my command to get him to his feet again. This was a bit confusing for him, plus I'm using hand signals with all the commands, but there was one point at which I could see the lightbulb go on, so to speak, and after that it was easy! Then as usual he got bored with this "game" and we went outside and chucked around the whiskey bottle for awhile. The reason I was so thrilled is that the way I'm teaching seems to work for him so well. He gets it, and doesn't end up confused. In this way he is actually understanding me and we're having fun learning new things. At least every other day we go through the tricks to keep him refreshed. Loose-leash walking is going slowly but surely(?).There are just so many things to explore outdoors! I'm also anxious for summer and open water, so we can go swimming and boating. Living where we do I know it's really important that he becomes completely comfortable with being in, around, and on the lakes. This is when I think that getting a puppy in the summer would have been a smart idea, but at least next winter the snow and cold won't be unexpected. And he does love the snow. Now as the sun comes out more often Savage has discovered the luxury of lying in sunbeams. As I'm typing this, he's relaxing after playtime with Ted, completely stretched out on the carpet, soaked in sunlight, a tired but happy little dog.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

15 - 16 Weeks

I just spent about 10 minutes on this post, only to experience problems with the host, therefore deleting the entire thing. I'm a little frustrated and I think I'll just rewrite this summary in a day or so. Anyway, this is my beautiful little dust-colored dog at 4 months old:Saturday Night Special "Savage" Weight: 48lbs Height: 22"

Thursday, March 02, 2006

14 - 15 Weeks

Everywhere I take my puppy we get a million questions, complements, suggestions! The most prevalent assumption is "is that a weimeraner?", probably because most people have never seen a blue great dane. I also hear a lot of "what a beautiful color!", which Savvy definately is. And people are amazed at his soft, glossy coat, and want to pet him endlessly. Of course, Savage just eats up all the attention. "What did you do to his ears??" is a popular question, and leads to a lengthy explanation about ear-cropping, taping, etc. I've found that a lot of people not really familiar with the practice believe that his ears are still healing and the supportive tape is actually bandages. They also are curious as to how long he will have to go through taping and I usually say that we will do it through the age of 6 months and then see how things look. In all truth, I believe it will take longer, mostly because I think we would be really lucky to get standing ears that early, but I am getting more adept at ear-taping and am prepared to do it for as long as it takes. The tape really seems to confuse people as to what breed Savage is. I've been complemented on my weimeraner, doberman, german shepard(!), greyhound, etc. I've heard "did you rescue him from the race-track?", "are you gonna dock his tail?", "when are you going to crop his ears?" (when his tape is off) and all sorts of strange questions! It's amusing, but I try to give everyone accurate information while not making them look foolish.Since I've been bringing the puppy to public places I've also met a few people in my hometown that have danes, which I would have never had the opportunity to meet before! The little personality quirks in the adults I can see emerging in Savage. What an awesome breed. We've been visiting a lot lately. A lot of businesses in my town are dog-friendly and actually keep free dog biscuits in the store. A few times I've had to turn down biscuits from well-meaning employees because Savage is not allowed to eat commercial dog food, but everyone is very understanding. Usually they are just thrilled to pet him and ask about him. The other night my sister and I stopped by a hometown bar for a drink and inevitably the talk turned to dogs. The bartender, a friend of mine, was more than happy to let Savage join us inside and he ended up dozing on a barstool for an hour or so. I always make sure that if there are loud and rowdy customers around I will take Savage out to the car or leave altogether, but in a mellow, laid-back environment he is really comfortable.
We have gone shopping together, rented movies, filled up the car's gastank, checked out new trucks. He is such a part of my life now, and I find myself making plans only if he is involved. When I'm at work bartending I serve repeat customers from last year that knew I was planning on getting a puppy and ask if I ever did, at which point I whip out his little photo album for them to look through! On non-busy nights (Mondays and Tuesdays) he usually "helps" me at work, mostly charming the customers and dragging bar-rags around the bar. He's already getting too big for our oversized barstools and my employer suggested we get him an even bigger one so he can be comfortable. With my boss's two shepards, Savage, and Ted coming over to play, the bar I work at has definately "gone to the dogs". This is a good thing, right?I've noticed that Savvy is getting more vocal. During play with other dogs he has started to growl and bark more, and is deciding to try out this dominance thing. I see him laying his head over another dog's back, or putting his paw over someone's neck. It's refreshing to see him trying out new things, since when he was smaller he automatically rolled on his back when another dog made a move. When I'm preparing his food he does bark and I'm kinda encouraging it, so he will "speak" on command. I realize I may regret this later! He still "talks" in his sleep, which instead of being irritating, became comforting after awhile. When he's talking and running during sleep it's probably the cutest thing ever. With R. leaving on a snowmobile trip for a week I know Savage will make it a lot less lonelier. Though I don't really trust anyone else to help me with ear-taping, so I hope these hold up until he returns.
On Saturday my blue guy will get his second dose of roundworm medicine, and on Sunday he will get his first distemper vaccination. I have not seen any worms in his poop, and believe me, I'm paying attention since I'm intent on keeping the yard spotless. Perhaps we've got the worm situation kicked in the ass. The back toenail that was torn off is now growing back well, though very slowly. Health-wise, he is thriving. I have been clipping his nails once a week and now I don't think it needs to be that often. I still worry that he is not getting enough organ meats in his diet because he only picks at beef-, and now chicken-liver! So we will have to find another, more tasty option. I feed him fish on Mondays only, and the rest of the week's menu is generally raw meaty bones (chicken and turkey), mashed sweet potatos, ground turkey and beef, and treats like eggs. I've heard that unsweetened mashed pumpkin is agreeable on the raw diet, and if I can find it in my town, we'll give it a try (in moderation).
Savage loves the snow and runs around trying to burrow into the drifts. He also eats quite a bit of it, which I'm thinking may help with the pain of teething. (Yes, I do supply him with fresh water at all times.) My yard is starting to look pretty trashy, since there are a few alcohol bottles here and there.But I've found Sav has the most fun chasing plastic half-gallon-size vodka and whiskey bottles around. He can pounce on the bottles, and carry them by the necks, and they slide around easily on the hard-packed snow when you give them a kick. He hasn't actually pierced through them with his teeth, so I think they are pretty safe. He also has tennis balls in the yard, and stuffed animals and squeaky toys all over the house. He loves chasing the dot of the laser pointer. Yet boots and socks are completely irresistable. Hmm... the many joys of puppy ownership!!

Beautiful Ears

Finally! After letting the cut on his ear heal, which it did quite quickly, R. and I taped Savvy's ears using my modified method of Caulk-Sav'r foam and Zonas tape. Once we got the ears up I decided not to use the brace between the ears. He seemed to have enough control over them and above all I don't want them to lean in over his head. Of course when he is relaxed they fall out to the sides a little but alert they stand perfectly. I believe I've finally found a system where the lower ends of the foam don't pop out of the ear canal. This involves the foam tube as far back in the ear as possible so the fold on the bell of Savage's ear keeps it secured. Then I wrap the tape toward the back and outside of his head, still making sure the natural fold on the lower front of the ear is still allowed to remain. This is probably pretty hard to follow, but for now it's working wonderfully for Savage. And just look at the results! After 7 days up, last night around 8:30pm we took off the tape to let his ears get some air and clean them. The Zonas tape is awesome! It kept Savvy's ears upright and comfortable, as he hasn't been scratching at them, and it adheres to the skin itself (reverse-wrapped on the foam) much better than regular cloth tape. I had heard that it would be difficult to remove so I bought some baby oil to get the glue off, but we ended up not needing it. The removal only took off a few little hairs, in fact, a lot less than the old tape. And with me holding Savage and playing tug with his toy, and R. unwrapping the tape, it was a breeze. I'm sufficiently impressed with this system. Around 11:00pm the upper 1/3s of Sav's ears were starting to relax and fall, though the lower 2/3s were still strong. I wanted to get the tape back on right away so we can continue to progress. I again cleaned inside his ears with 70% alcohol on a cotton ball and there is noticeably less "crud" there than a few weeks ago. Both ears look very healthy. By this time he was so tired that he let me do pretty much whatever I wanted without struggling. We let his ears dry and then taped again in the same way. This morning I notice that one ear is positioned leaning a little too far forward so I may correct that when R. gets home tonight. In any case, I know that each time I tape ears I'm learning much more about what works and what doesn't. It's all a learning experience and I expect to become an expert in a few months!! All kidding aside, Savage is the most beautiful and intelligent puppy in the world, I'm sure of it.