Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Two weeks

Banner has been here for two weeks already. He is a good puppy. For initial purposes, “good” means “quiet in a crate.” Beyond that, “good” is a rather vague word that covers a multitude of behaviors from “rides in the car without barfing” to “lets me cut his toenails without having a meltdown” to “flies at me like he’s been launched from a cannon when I call him.”

I’m willing to overlook lapses in “good” (attacking shoes, refusal to release said shoe, gleeful attacking of another shoe upon eventual release of initial shoe) because for the love of doG, how can you scold something that is so stinkin’ cute? So far, the height of Banner’s naughtiness has been random chomping of human skin and a determination to pester the cats until they pack up and leave. Which they won’t, because they are fascinated by him in a horrified sort of way.

You are about to exceeded the limits of my medication! But I can't leave you alone.

It took three nights for Banner to decide the world wasn’t coming to an end when he had to go in a crate so the humans could sleep. He’s quiet at night now. This is not the same as sleeping through the night. Apparently there are a lot of entertaining things you can do in a crate at 2 a.m. I can hear him banging around, growling to himself and the occasional sound of cloth tearing. He shows a predisposition to becoming an absolutely first class shredder.

Phoenix is not sure about this big brother gig. He shows general disdain mingled with cautious interest and alternates between curling his lip and wagging his tail. I spend a lot of time on Phoenix And Banner Management. It would be wonderful to see them romping in the back yard together but I’m not in a hurry to reach that point.

Phoenix has a big personal space. He does not like dogs in his personal space. He especially does not like dogs jumping on his head. Puppies excel at jumping on other dogs’ heads. I am pretty sure Banner would manage to offend him beyond all reasonable expectation in very short order if they were loose together.

While my friends all assure me they’ll be best buddies, I realize most of them live with dogs who are accepting and tolerant and actually enjoy meeting and interacting with new dogs. Phoenix is not and does not. I knew when I brought a puppy home that it would take a while for Phoenix to warm up to the idea that a puppy in the house was okay, let alone decide he could play with one.

There was a puppy in this picture 2 seconds ago. Seriously. He was right there.

So I’m careful. Sometimes they go outside separately. Sometimes together, but only with Banner on a leash to prevent him from doing anything rash.

To his credit, Banner has been reasonably respectful in the limited interaction he’s had with Phoenix. He’s gotten in a few quick muzzle licks, usually when I’m holding him and Phoenix makes what appears to be an obligatory sniff. Phoenix has returned these with soft tail wags and there has been some play-bowing and the appearance of “party ears.” I’m not in a hurry to toss the two of them together. Phoenix is 52 pounds of hard muscle without a lot of tolerance. Banner is 12 pounds of fuzz without a lot of good sense.

I’ve been trying to do one brief leash walk with both of them together each day. Preferably in the evening. Preferably when Banner is tired and much less likely to do something reckless. Banner capers and cavorts and manages to bump into Phoenix’s haunches and flanks. Phoenix doesn’t seem to mind this.

Squishy balls are the best. Unless you can have a fuzzy toy. Then have the fuzzy toy. Unless you can have a cookie. Then have the cookie. Unless you can have pats and thumps. Then have pats and thumps.

Pack management aside, puppy training is an absolute blast. I use “training” in the most general of terms. Since Banner has so much to learn - about life on a farm, cats, malinois, cheese, crates, diesel pickup trucks - every minute I spend with him is some sort of training. Everything he experiences brings him new knowledge.

He has no preconceived notion that training could ever be boring or unpleasant. Everything in his life to this point has been done to show him that humans are trustworthy, gentle, fun, safe and loaded with all the good stuff. I want to expand this to show him that if he encounters something scary (the cement deer in my mother-in-law’s yard) that I’ll be there to keep him safe and help him be brave (really hoping my mother-in-law didn’t see me sticking pieces of cheese to the deer. Or Banner gnawing on the deer’s leg.)

It's a scientific fact, flower beds are puppy magnets.


  1. Thank you for letting me know what place you got the toy from!

    Banner is such a handsome little boy. ^_^

  2. Mom says thanks again fur reminding her why she prefers her ready grown and mostly broken in ;-)

    PeeEssWoo: If woo get to New Virginia, look up my furiend Summi The Super Mal - as in Mal-a-mute!

  3. I just stumbled across your blog this afternoon. I have a 7yo terrier mix and just rescued a 5mo pit puppy 3 weeks ago (as in literally saved her in the last five minutes before she was to be euthanized at the vet clinic I work at). This post in particular really sounds like a more comically written version of our recent three weeks.