3 Lessons by Dog…so far.

Meet Archie*, the newest member of the Sauerman clan! DSC_0509

He’s pretty great, the little poop monster. Archie has a crazy story. One day back in January my husband’s coworker was in a parking lot when someone drives up to him and says, “Take this.” He hands him a 5-week-old puppy through the window and drives away. The coworker brings the puppy into the office where another co-worker fosters him. Fast-forward five months and this second co-worker needs to move away and can’t take Archie. And that is how he came to us.

I am on Day 6 of dog ownership and I go back and forth between thinking ‘This is the greatest!’ and ‘Good Lord, what have I done?’ You see, Archie is a puppy. I have never had a puppy before. My family adopted my childhood dog when he was a year and a half. That dog was already potty-trained, already comfortable in the crate, and fine being left alone. Archie is nearly potty-trained, nervous about the crate, and definitely not cool about being left alone. He builds up energy and goes spastic. But after he gets to run around some, and maybe gets a treat or two, he cuddles up next to me like a perfect little angel. Oh, my emotions!

One thing has become clear so far: There is a big learning curve with this. I expected a curve, but there are so many things I want to fix with his behavior RIGHT NOW. I know, I know…all of you who already own dogs are shaking your heads at my naiveté. But seriously, I don’t know how people used to raise dogs without the internet.

Because this blog is about creativity and learning and other such good things, today I will share what I have learned so far:

DSC_05081. Patience. I read the Cesar Milan book on a friend’s recommendation. He talks about exhibiting calm assertive energy. I can now say that, as goofy as this voo doo-ish philosophy sounds, I haven’t found anything that works better for getting my pup to quit acting out. Even so, the sound of his barking, though playful, raises my blood pressure and I have to stop myself from yelling. When I yell, he just thinks I’m barking back and it’s a fun game. He needs to learn that barking gets him neither a treat nor the frisbee nor even my attention, and that lesson needs to come from my consistently calm, assertive demeanor. He’s getting it, but slowly. I’ve only had him for six days. I need to cut both of us some slack.

DSC_05042. Thankfulness. My hope with getting a dog was that it would help habituate good behaviors in me, as well as the dog. For instance, I anticipated dog ownership would keep me more active, maybe help me lose weight. But I am now looking forward to habituating thankfulness for everything Archie does well. As both he and I learn more about each other, I feel myself becoming increasingly thankful for behaviors he does get right, for the affection he shows me, and for the silky touch of his little ears.

3. Love of the Kong. I bought this toy at the pet store remembering that my childhood dog liked it. It also promised to be indestructible, so that’s a win. Then I met this lady while walking Archie who told me that if I stuffed the kong with a mixture of peanut butter, yogurt (for the probiotics), and kibble, AND THEN FROZE IT, it would keep the dog entertained for hours. Sure enough, this doggie popsicle pleases Archie to no end. I am convinced that God sent that lady with this message. Everyone has slept better in my house because of it.

Stay tuned for more lessons by dog!

*We did not name Archie, but I am satisfied with the name. My association with the name is Archie Leach, Cary Grant‘s real name. My husband had the brilliant idea that maybe one day we will get a girl puppy and name her Ingrid for Ingrid Bergman, and we will have quite the Notorious pair!

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3 Comments

Filed under Running Commentary on whatever tickles the fancy, True Stories

3 responses to “3 Lessons by Dog…so far.

  1. The energy thing does seem like voodoo at first. But by “energy” I think it really means body language and facial expressions. Animals go on body language a lot, and maybe smells, with minimal vocalizations. So the way you carry yourself impacts dogs and impressionable puppies a lot. We default to speech, but that means so little to a dog, and even amongst other humans, body language and facial expressions carries a large amount of meaning. There have been recent studies showing that dogs can read human emotions from facial expressions, unique to the animal kingdom.

    Also, those kong things really are indestructible. We got one when Kona was a wee pup. She’s eaten multiple giant bones, torn through collars, toys, and trees, but that kong is still sitting in the backyard like an adamantium chew toy.

    • ecapo

      Thanks to both of you guys for your help! It has given us so much more confidence as we charge forward with this adventure! May Kong be the battle cry!

  2. Pingback: Lessons by Dog, part II | Learning to Whistle

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