A whole new world
Dido has discovered that she can climb the stairs, all alone and unaided but she kinda gives herself away once she's reached the top by thundering around at top speed doing a lovely impression of a small herd of elephants on the rampage. Until Monday she couldn't get back down again. but she can go both ways we never know where she might be. Consequently The Board is now doubling up as an office door barricade during week days and a stair 'gate' during evenings and over the weekends. Hester sits at the bottom and looks imploringly, "I'm only little, pick me up, carry me and give me lots of cuddles on the way" or at least until Monday morning when Dido set off at high speed and there was no one around to assist her progress so off she took.
The big wide world.
Tuesday rolls around at last and we can set paw outside the gate. For weeks the road has been sheep free - until Monday night when a flock wandered down leaving a lovely trail of what Dido assures me are very tasty little raisins! Dido is fascinated by everything that's going on and is paying me little or no attention, Hester meanwhile is constantly checking with me that everything is fine. Gradually we've increased the distance and by the end of the week were getting out onto the main road with all the clamour of traffic and people.
On Sunday I noticed a small gap in Dido's upper front teeth (as she was lying her back laughing up at me - trying to grab my fingers), the puppy needle teeth are on their way out and consequently they are more chewy than ever, I'm clearing soggy cardboard confetti from the various floors at least twice a day. They're also partial to empty plastic bottles, the square ones are particularly good as the corner will crush and then can be chewed with satisfying crunchy noises
For some reason the cracks in the yard are delightful, even better than pebbles. We’re not too happy about yard licking despite the very clean patches so the cracks have been liberally doused in washing up liquid, only one lick each and they’ve both back off. However one evening Hester was sitting on the step with green slime around her mouth (lovely!), she’s been yard licking again I thought and went to get kitchen roll to clean her up. The green slime was particularly difficult to remove and full of gritty bits, as I was swiping it off her nose she opened her mouth to reveal a slightly chewed slug (urgh). She dropped it on the step and it struggled to move away as it was now totally deslimed. Oh, puppies are such lovely creatures. So far no more slug eating adventures, phew. Although the verandah has another piece missing, bits of brick have turned up in the water bucket and there are a couple of chairs with suspicious marks which look remarkably like puppy teeth!
Despite their choice of snacks meal times are not so plain sailing.
The pups had been fed with food loose on the ground, not out of dishes meaning their dishes were a novelty, a slightly scary one, and without the competition of eating as much as you can as quickly as you can from their litter-mates they feel no compunction to dive straight in. I made a mistake with their dishes, I got metal ones with deep sides - thinking about the quantity they would have to eat. The first problem was when Dido put a foot in hers, it flew up and cracked her on the head! After that she wouldn’t go near it and would only eat directly from the floor again. I eventually coaxed her to eat from a small, shallow, glass dish, however, two distinctly different dishes wasn’t working because if Hester ate Dido’s food Dido wouldn’t finish off Hester’s, *sigh*. Two small glass dishes it was - which was OK but they didn’t hold much so we tried going back to the big metal dishes but because they were so deep the metal D-ring on their collars would clink against the side. Not good. So I chalked it up to experience and invested in new dishes, shallow, un-tip-up-able style, still metal but with a rubber ring on the foot, smaller versions of the water dish in the cage. Initially they weren’t sure about the noise of the kibble in the dish so we broke all the rules and played with our dishes and our food, leaving the dishes (empty) down all day until Dido started picking them up by the foot and running off with them. Problem solved. However, even now when they eat tea alongside Hebe and Maia, they are easily distracted and have to be pointed back to food. They are getting the idea and anything not finished within 15 minutes is removed or if there’s only a little left Hebe gets to clear their plates - which is helping in concentrating their minds, Hester’s more than Dido’s. Despite this they’re growing well and seem to be thriving; we’ve dropped lunch and they’re on three meals, big breakfast and tea and smaller supper.
Dido can now hurtle both up and down the stairs. Hester can go up but needs lots of encouragement to come back down and if either of them need to go out it’s still better to carry them - Hester simply takes too long and can’t really hold on long enough to get down the yard, although verandah step is good enough; Dido gets distracted by everything and thus also can’t get down the yard in time.
The big wide world is a wonderful / scary place.
It’s wonderful: Dido is enjoying going out and will nudge the leads asking to go, she’s been up to the shops, in the post office, round the block, buses and coaches are surprising large, met Sue and Ali and their dogs Kim and Minty, been down to the crossroads, been terrified by a motorbike and then worried by cars but we’re over that now, up the incline, the hand driers in the public loos are very noisy and scary, met Linda and Moss (Moss is wonderful and he thinks Dido’s pretty great too), today we met Denis and Ollie (who doesn’t like black labs but didn’t recognise Dido as a lab, she’s not big enough yet!), talked with lots of visitors, learnt that it’s ok to puddle and dump outside, sheep are worrisome but their deposits are very tasty (no they’re not Dido, grr, ah-ah, leave) but apparently not on the menu.
It’s scary: Hester on the other hand is having problems but then she’s not had a smooth ride. To begin with Hester was much better being focused on me and not what else was going on however I’ve found out that she’s frightened of dogs especially small ones and barking terriers turn her into a quivering wreck; some people are scary too. She was the first to venture off our road and into the village, unfortunately two runners came thundering past from behind us, they made me jump so poor Hester was very wide eyed but a little sit and she was OK and on we would go, not 5 metres on and a pair of badly behaved Charlies on a double lead pulled their owner across the road snarling at us. It’s a good job her collar was tight otherwise she’d have slipped it and been away, no option but to pick up and walk back towards home; back onto the Mill Green and I put her down again, she tugged most of the way back and panted for quite a while. Next day we’d go early before the visitors arrived, she set off very well but only half way down the road we met Marian and Jill (soft as washing old Border), Hester hid behind me before trying to bolt for home again. We walked on a little way to let Marian get out of sight before finally coming back. We will not be defeated so that evening we would try again, this time she was keen until we got to the gate and then she didn’t want to go out. Oh-oh I’ve got a little agoraphobe! Poor little pup what a series of frightening experiences. A day off from leads completely and then back to garden walks to get over that one. Next up was to go in the car to somewhere new - top of the village to walk across the green and around the church, which was fine but talking to a tourist who wanted directions was enough make her quake again, so we called in at the Post Office on the way home, she walked across the road very well but started backing off when we saw people; I decided to carry her, that way she has the security of being in contact with me, at head height (not foot), she can’t escape what’s going on but I don’t need to reassure her (which would ‘reward’ her behaviour) leaving her to deal on her own. It’s working, she’s been to the garden centre, the craft fair in the hall and back to the shops, carried for all and although some people still make her shake she gets over it much faster - funnily enough children, even tiny ones, don’t bother her at all. Yesterday we went back up to the church end and this time Hebe came too! As an exercise in walking to heal it would have been a disaster but in confidence building it was a triumph - there were lots of things that made her start and had she been on own would have bolted but she looked at Hebe who simply carried on and thus so did Hester. The plan now is confidence building outside, heal work in the garden and in a couple of places which should be worry free.
Their development is different that if I didn’t know I’d think they were from different litters, different ages. Hester is still a puppy whilst Dido is a little dog, there’s about 2-3 weeks difference in the physical and mental development. Dido has been hopping in and out of their cage for 3 weeks, Hester has only started doing it on her own this weekend, Hester still bunny hops up the stairs, Dido walks. Watching them grow is fascinating - apparently we should ‘write a paper on it’! (I’m sure there are lots already....)
Why so much in one chunk? Well see the office blog for reasons....
Photos have got as far as the server but not online yet.