The Buddy Update for Buddy’s Buddies

It’s hard to believe that we’ve been together six month already. His predecessor took her final walk just three weeks before on National Dog Day, August 26th. How strange is that? One of the best creatures I’ve ever had the good fortune to know and she steps out of the world on the day meant to celebrate her.

Buddy’s a good little guy. I feel like I’m still just getting to know him. I suppose that makes some sense, after all his personality is growing and changing along with his body.

I thought I was getting a big dog when I found him at the shelter in Detroit Lakes. That was my intent. And, clearly I didn’t pay close enough attention to his small feet. But, I had no choice. He stole my heart the moment he climbed into my lap. I couldn’t not take him home with me. So, I am with a dog who at about 8 months of age weighs 32 lbs. I’m guessing he’ll top out at 40 lbs at the most.

His predecessor had a gift of understanding people and getting even those who genuinely feared dogs to trust her and, almost always, to fall in love.

Buddy, now he’s the class clown. Just yesterday he proved his hunting prowess by beating his pals in catching an already dead rabbit at the park. It was hilarious watching him on his little stout legs run down the path at top speed with this still fairly fresh headless bunny in his mouth and his pal Frannie, a Weimaraner who is tall enough that he can run under her, in hot pursuit. He has since caught that same rabbit at least three more times. He’s also quite good with a kangaroo style leap after field mice, loves to leap from the tallest snow drifts and dig himself in over his head in search of his prey until he gets distracted by a bird, another dog, or maybe a piece of sausage. Buddy is not one to focus on one activity for long.

He is a smart guy though. We didn’t make it through Good Citizenship training yet. We tried, but with snow drifts it’s tough to do loose leash walking and with all the snow days class was a bit inconsistent. We’ll try again in a few months. He is getting pretty good with sit, stay, lay down, roll, shake, and spin though. Down and back off need continuing work, but he’s really gotten a lot better. And, he’s not chewing on his human near as much as he used to.

I wonder what he’ll grow up to be like. I’d like to someday train him to be a therapy dog. I’m guessing he’ll be good with elders. I don’t quite know why I feel that, but I do. We’ll see. Until then, he’s being a good pal and reminding me often of what’s important. He takes me out for walks. Gets me to go play at the park. Reminds me when it’s time to shut down the computer and wrestle or cuddle. It’s good to have beings like this in our lives to take care of us, remind us to live and not get too caught up in the unimportant things of life. I still miss his predecessor, but her spirit led me to another good friend.

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Puppy School– Day 1

Buddy had his first canine good citizen class tonight. I am counting it a success that we didn’t get kicked out yet. I am not fully confident that it might not happen next week.

It was a small group, just Buddy, two other dogs in the class, and the trainer’s dog. Thank goodness there weren’t any more there tonight or Buddy might have completely exploded! You see Buddy likes to play. He’s a big fan of other dogs, as long as he can chase, wrestle, and more recently, try to mate with them. Trying to work separately on basic skills causes his little mind to overload and for him to simply quake with anxiety.

The plan for the night was to start with practicing loose leash walking. That’s a tough one for Buddy. Add in the other dogs in the room and that his foolish human was remembering to use the clicker and praise, but failing to consistently provide treats, and we weren’t getting very far. The class was held in a large gym in the local high school. Every time we got in the same within 20 feet of one of the other dogs Buddy would start to pull and whine and move into a full on bark. “MOM, LET ME PLAY!” and we’d need to turn and go the other way.

Then the trainer suggested that we work together on stay. I explained that Buddy and I had worked on stay quite a bit and that just yesterday he started a strange new response. Every time I say “stay” he confuses it with “lay down” and he lays down. The trainer gave it a try and sure enough each time she said stay, he laid down. When he didn’t get a treat for laying down he tried rolling over to see if that might work. She suggested that we start over with that piece of training and gave me some guidance on doing a short stay and using a release word. But, by now Buddy was far too entranced with the other dogs in the room and cared almost nothing for treats, not even the really good ones. She encouraged me to treat him for just being quiet.

So, Buddy and I found our corner of the room and just worked on a little bit of sit, stay, lay down, and look, while mostly just getting praise and treats for every moment that he was able to let another dog near us without whining and barking.

Thank goodness for that last bit of the hour together when the trainer let us all let our dogs off leash and Buddy was free to play. Still, that wasn’t all the best either. First of all, gym floors are really hard to get a grip on if you’re a bumbling puppy trying to speed after the big guys. Buddy did a lot of slipping and sliding and at least one flip that I think may have worried the other people in the room for a moment. Then there were Buddy’s teenage hormones. Thankfully, all the young lady dogs had already been spayed. Buddy will be neutered soon, but for now is still testing his manhood as much as possible.

We’ve got some work to do. But, for now Buddy is a happy and tired puppy. School was quite the adventure! More stories next week!