Thursday, April 27, 2006

22 - 23 Weeks

Lately I've been working with Savage every day on walking on a leash. I found that if I take him out early in the morning when he's still sleepy he doesn't chew on the leash or pull too much. So we've been doing that each morning and taking at least one more leashed walk in the afternoon. Other than that, he gets to play along the shore and chase balls in the yard without a leash. He comes when called about 90% of the time, though when he's with another dog he just follows them and couldn't care less about the humans around him. The only thing that will make him come to me immediately is the call "food!" which is what I say when I serve him dinner. Of course if I say that, then I need to feed him, but I know if he ever got in trouble and I needed to get him near me fast I could use "food" as a command. He will do anything for a treat. Savage is getting better at walking calmly on a leash, which I know is a necessity. Slowly but (I hope) surely.
I'm still feeding him turkey backs as a staple, with mashed pumpkin, mashed sweet potato, ground beef, ground pork, ground turkey, cooked beef liver, chicken liver, chicken leg quarters, canned pink salmon, canned mackeral, and the occassional turkey neck.He gets tiny pieces of hot dogs for treats when I'm teaching him new tricks or going over the old ones. Once in while I give him raw fresh broccoli to chew on because it amuses him to tear it apart, and R. lets him chew on celery, though he won't actually eat it!Along the way he gets some people-food leftovers as part of his meals if we have pork chops or steak for dinner, though I'm careful to trim the meat from the bones. Sometimes during a car ride when he needs a snack I buy him a piece of beef jerky or a beef stick or a small piece of cheddar cheese. When he's in the bar with me I give him ice cubes to play with.
Of course, that's not to say that's all he eats! When R. and I are eating a meal in front of the TV Savage has sneaked up and stolen snacks off our plates. At which point he gets directed to his crate so the humans can eat in peace. He occasionally eats a little grass outside, and I'm sure he's swallowed his share of ants during the "ant hunt" on the deck. The raw diet seems to work very well for him, no digestive or gastrointestinal problems to speak of. He's had a few episodes of gas, but I'm sure that's normal, and he was sick a few weeks back, vomiting up food a couple times. I fasted him for one day, and then everything returned to normal.
Physicallly, he is in great shape. He has energy when it's required for play or walks, though he loves nothing more than stretching out in the sun and napping. His coat is a beautiful, glossy gun-metal color, that sheds minimally so far.I brush him very rarely. The back toe-nail that ripped off a long time ago is still growing back, almost completely now. All his adult teeth are present and his eyes are always bright. He does have tears and "eye-boogers" frequently. Maybe this is due to the saggy skin around his eyes, I'm guessing. In any case, watching him run around outside, his beauty is almost breath-taking. Of course, I may be exaggerating, but I think a great dane is the most awesome breed of dog in the world. I'm lucky to have my own little representative of it.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Puppy Teeth

My little puppy is no longer a baby! Last night he lost the last of his puppy teeth, the lower canines. When I checked his teeth yesterday morning, the new ones were pushing out the little ones and those were really loose. Last night they were gone. Maybe standing ears are not far behind!

Friday, April 21, 2006

21 - 22 Weeks

Because Savage is only 156 days old, he hasn't had experience with some things, and I've been anxious about introducing him to them. Kids, for example. The other day he met a friend's little girl, the first human he's seen that's smaller than him. Both R. and I were really nervous that he would knock her over, or nip at her, or scratch her with his big paws. But he really surprised us by being pretty gentle, though she was teasing him by chasing him and then running away.Only when all the adults started calling him and clapping their hands did he get a little too excited and I decided to take him for a little walk to calm him down. He is still a clumsy, huge puppy who doesn't know where his feet are half the time, so even if he's careful around small children, he could unintentionally knock them over. The girl's parents were having fun, and I was obviously more concerned than they were! All in all, his first playtime with a kid was a success.
I know some dogs (though not hunting breeds) that are frightened of guns, so I wanted to introduce Savage to the sound of gunshots in a way that would make him feel safe and comfortable. With me not knowing how to accomplish that, the other day R. made the decision for me. A couple friends of ours wanted to do some target practice outside our house (which is a pretty rural area) and R. just started shooting. Savage was outside in the yard playing with another puppy friend, August, a 10 month old yellow lab, and was so intent on August that the gunshots were just background noise. Immediately he was fine with standing right next to me when I fired the pistol, so that made me pretty relieved. I'm confident that I could fire the gun anytime and he wouldn't have an issue with it, which is important because I carry a handgun on our walks in the woods.
Because we live around dozens of lakes, and I enjoy fishing in the summer, I want my puppy to be at home in, on, and around the water. Every day we've been going down to the shore and playing along the waterline. He will fetch sticks from very shallow water and really likes it even though the water is still extremely cold.Yesterday he actually waded in up to his belly and I'm sure as the weather gets hot and the lake warms up he will be swimming in no time! Getting him to ride in a boat may be a different story, but usually he just goes with the flow and doesn't seem to have much of a problem with things I'm dreading introducing him to. Keep in mind that this is my first dog and I'm like a new mom.
The other day I caught him chasing ants on the deck, which was really cute. He still watches his ducks closely but won't run over to them. He doesn't have much of a prey drive yet, which is fine considering we have much bigger animals around that I'd rather he not chase.
Last week I finally bought a new truck, a 2003 Dodge Ram quad cab. Of course Savage still wants to be in the driver's lap at all times, but he has tons of room in the backseat now. He's finally decided to understand the command "stay" so he doesn't leap into the front seat unless he's really excited. I have always used the command "get back" to move him out of the driver's seat in the Cavalier, so he's used to that.He can't climb into the truck on his own so I have to pick him up (all 77lbs of him!) to put him in it. Seems like he's comfortable back there on his blanket, and sticking his head out the window with his lips flapping everywhere.
We took his tape off last night around 9:00pm and let him go overnight with his ears free. Today they are still standing, if a little floppy at the tips. They look wonderful, and I can't wait til ear-taping is over!! He's so handsome!

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Two days ago I took Savage to visit his lab friend, Gabby. She has unbelievable energy for a 2-year-old so he just wears himself out following her. Her owner and I and the pups were down by the lake and Gabby started barking for Sav to play with her. Each bark was echoing from across the lake, and Sav got scared. It was the first time he'd ever heard an echo, and it really confused him. He tried to crawl all over me for protection, as he does when he's frightened. But I couldn't help laughing. Being a first-time dog owner, each time he experiences something new, that experience is brand new to me, too. It's fascinating to watch him grow up, knowing that he has only been alive for 21 weeks. Everything is so new to him!
Now that the ice on the lakes is melting away from the shoreline and the creeks are flowing, the mallards are coming back.We go walking down to the lake every morning to find "Savage's ducks" and he is very interested in them, though the water is too cold for him to actually chase them. And I'm having to watch him very carefully around the lake to make sure he won't find a way onto the weak ice. Dogs can, and do, fall through the ice during this time of year, and if there is not a rescue effort immediately the consequences can be tragic. That said, Sava is still such a puppy that he won't leave my sight when we're in a strange situation, especially involving things like ducks and geese and echoes, and pretty much everything else!
I'm forcing myself to walk him on a leash at least once a day so he might accept it more readily. Our problem has always been that he resents being held back and constantly tries to eat the leash. Now I'm trying to divert his attention to other things to play with and praising him a lot when he's behaving nicely. I don't know if he's making progress.Some times he's an angel, other times we turn around and go back inside right away, and later I let him fun free behind our house for exercise. Leash walking is the only thing I'm trying to teach him that he is not at all eager to do. He does all his other "tricks" and commands happily. The pictures in this post are Savage and Gabby at her owner's house.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

19 - 21 Weeks

About 5 days ago, Savage started throwing up his food. This happened for 3 days and there was no obvious reason. Some of the meals were ground meat, some were raw meaty bones. I have not introduced any new food just lately, so it wasn't a kind of food allergy. The weird part is that at that time, both R. and I were getting over a stomach flu, so is it possible that Sav got sick with the same thing? In any case, now I'm feeding him just ground and mashed food for a couple days, and forcing him to eat it slowly by feeding him by spoonful. And he is just fine, so I'll start giving him bones tomorrow.
As the snow melts and the weather gets sunny, we've been able to take longer walks and explore more. However, maybe he got sick from something he picked up and ate in the woods. This wasn't a problem when we had 3 feet of snow. Anyway, we're walking remote gravel roads and Savage absolutely loves it, off-leash and energetic. A few days ago we started seeing a lot of moose tracks in a certain area, which really kinda woke me up. Before I got Savage, and until this point, I had not even considered moose as something to give much thought about. Which is strange, because I personally know of two people's whose dogs have been kicked by moose, I just didn't think about what I would do if Sav saw one and took off after it.A deer being chased by a dog will run until it's literally dead. A moose is more likely to trot away slowly, but also to turn around and defend itself. When I noticed the tracks along the gravel road (Savage didn't pay any attention to them) I started steering him back to where the car was parked. Right off the road in the woods I started hearing brush moving and sticks snapping. Moose don't normally spook and run off like deer do. I knew if the pair of moose stepped onto the road, Sava would definately see them, and who knows what he would do about two huge animals moving around 15 feet from him. My rational mind says that he's too much of a scared puppy to chase anything threatening. I think he would just bark himself hoarse and run back to me. I've seen him do the same with two honking Canada geese! Still, I worry because though moose don't attack dogs in a normal situation, they will fight back, and the odds are overwhelmingly in their favor. When hiking in the summer I carry a handgun for protection against black bears if I were to need it. I realize this is hardly necessary, but I have a life-long fear of bears. Bears are usually terrified of dogs, so with Savage I won't worry as much, and if he chases a bear, it will probably climb a tree and leave him alone. As far as chasing deer, he should never have the opportunity to do so, since I feel they will be long gone before we even know they are there. During walks I talk to Sava and play with him, so any wildlife certainly knows we're around. When I tell people the raw diet includes venison, some tell me that it will make my puppy run deer, but I don't know of many dogs that wouldn't. No matter what they normally eat, deer are prey animals and dogs are predators, and they know this.
Savage is now 70+ lbs at 5 months and 1 week old. His ears are looking more promising every week, standing erect for hours, with only the upper 2/3s drooping after quite a long time. No taping problems anymore. They look strong and stiff when they are free of tape, and I can hardly wait til they stand on their own, forever! My puppy has gotten most of his adult teeth, while the long canine teeth are still "babies". He's still not an agressive chewer, has not destroyed anything valuable. He does enjoy chewing on R.'s hands, because R. lets him when they are playing. Once in a while he gets really excited playing outdoors and will jump and nip at our clothing. I'm trying to break him of this, but the good news is that he does not do this to other people anymore. He believes jumping and nipping is strictly reserved for R. and Paula. Lucky us!
Every once in a while I look at him and think "holy crap, this dog is gonna be huge!". I see him with other dogs and his size is comparable to some of his full-grown puppy friends. We went to some friends' house for dinner and when I was playing with their two chocolate labs I realized they are shorter than my puppy. He stretches out on the futon and almost pushes Randy off the other side. While I was and am prepared for a giant breed dog, it's still a shock when you realize just how giant that is. While Sav may end up at 36" high at the shoulder, the tallest dane in the world is 42"! Get out a tape measure and just imagine living with a dog that tall. It is shocking. Because of his height, I'm having my dad make him an elevated feeder. I've heard this cuts back on dogs gulping their food and gives them better posture. Which can only be a good thing. The reccomended size for dogs is 6" shorter than their height, but that seems excessive. I told my dad to start at 20" for the feeder. If that's too tall, we'll just shorten the legs.
We visit all the dogs regularly and Sava has a blast chasing them around. He gets along with Ted better than any of the others, maybe because they are both danes and puppies.The pictures in this post are of Ted and Savage, and Sav playing with his "toys", which have been known to include workboots, sleeping bags, and most definately plastic bottles. I will be adding more pictures to Savage's Photo Gallery soon, and hopefully getting the Friends page back online. Also new tape-less ear pics as soon as possible - those are my favorites. Please check back and sign my guestbook with any comments or suggestions.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

This weekend R., Savage, and I took a trip to Duluth, MN, which is 140 miles from our home, strictly on account of the puppy. First of all, we had to buy dog food because he was running out of his usual fare, and secondly, we needed a place to store all of his food. So, yes, I finally got my chest freezer!! Maybe only a raw-feeding great dane owner could get so excited about a freezer, but it is pretty much necessary at this point. It's a 7 cubic foot GE model I got for $188, and is already filled with goodies. The third reason we went is to shop around for my new truck (or should I say Savage's new truck?). I do want a pick-up to tow a boat or a snowmobile trailer with, but because of the dog, I feel it has to be a four-door truck. We looked at a lot of beautiful and expensive new trucks but found a decent deal on a used four-door with a towing package. So maybe I'll take the leap into truck ownership very soon. I do know that my Cavalier, and R.'s S10 pick-up get very crowded with an almost-5-month old dane climbing around in them. No matter what we drive (as you can see in the picture) the only place Sava wants to be is in the driver's lap, though this isn't terribly safe, and won't be possible for much longer. Since he was a tiny puppy, he rides in any car comfortably and contently. He has never chewed or otherwise destroyed anything in our vehicles, and if left for more than a couple minutes, usually just curls up and takes a nap. On a longer trip, he'll eat in the car, but is not thrilled about eating in a parking lot where there's a lot going on. He's used to drinking out of a short cup on car rides, probably because I give him water from a plastic glass when he's at the bar. I try to give him bottled spring water only, (which is what he gets at home) but there are some situations where that's not possible. No matter, I don't think that's so very important, as long as he stays hydrated. It's fun to travel with Sav because there are so many new things for him to see and I love introducing him to new experiences. However, the honking Canada geese in a pond near the store where we took a walk gave him quite a start. If he was intended to be a hunting dog, he would have a lot to learn! He loves meeting new people, and readily approaches unfamiliar dogs, though I am sure to keep him leashed very near me. The business and noise of the city can make him a little nervous, but I think he's doing very well so far.