Sunday, December 28, 2014

He's the EveryReady Bunny

Christmas week can be hard on a puppy who can not be trusted to be alone.  Visiting with family and friends on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day meant the Buster had some extended time in his crate.  Early last week I moved him to a larger crate and he does have considerably more room.  I think he is much more comfortable.

To counter solitary confinement, Buster has had a week of long walk/trots.  On Christmas Eve there was a charity fun walk/run and Buster got to experience it...all of it.  From waking up at 5 am to be in line by 6, to having other dogs and people in line while we stood there for an hour.  Then, the walk with people big and small, walking and running, and even skating and cycling.  We also had Rusty with us and she acted as the perfect example.  Afterwards there was the hour in the crate in the truck as we enjoyed breakfast with the family.

On Saturday we wanted to ride the similar route we took a few weeks ago when Buster rode on the back of my horse.  This time he would be required to stay on the ground the whole way.  Puppies are incredibly resilient and Buster is no exception.  He followed along with the horses for the 2.75 miles to Ethel's Old Corral restaurant.  When we got to a traffic area, I placed Buster on a twelve foot lead and he heeled pretty darn good.

We bought him a burger patty at Ethel's and he thought that was quite yummy.  They put onions on our chicken sandwich and I set them on Buster's plate.  Yep, you guessed it, he ate them.  Raw onions.  The guy is a machine.

The trip back was a little slower, but he followed along perfectly and when we made it back to the stables I put him on the lead once again.  They were having an event in the main arena and there were horses, people and dogs everywhere.  Buster, Ranae and I walked around calmly through the whole thing.  Oh, and my horse was a champ too.  She didn't seem to mind having a thirty pound puppy around her feet.

Then, this morning I broke the mountain bike out again and headed for Hart Park.  It was cold at 8 am and I wasn't sure how many people/bikes would be out there.  I chose a little harder hill to climb.  We took off and Buster was on the long leash as we had a couple of streets to cross.  I think he is a right-handed dog.  He really prefers to be on the right.  Heeling protocol says he has to stay on the left, so that's where I put him.  He figured it out and we made our way to the first climb.  I took off the long line and away we went.

We did a total of about five miles over the span of an hour.  He just keeps going and going.  We encountered a couple of bikes and a few hikers.  Each time Buster would run up to them barking.  I would announce he was a puppy and the people were fine.  With each passing encounter the barks dwindled in number and intensity.  I'm not sure if this was because he was getting used to them or just to tired to care.

Monday we get back into our regular work routine.  He'll get some rest before the New Year and who knows what kind of adventures await him.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Out in the Wild

There's no guarantee that once off the leash a dog is going to stick around...for most breeds.  Buster seems to have a keen sense of both Ranae and I and, at least at four months of age, I am fairly confident he won't run off by himself.  Still, we have a lot invested in the little guy and he is a dog.

I've been wanting to get out my mountain bike after several years of letting it collect dust.  We have a very nice area to ride and it is being encroached upon.  I wanted to get in a few more rides before it got swallowed up.

It was a bit cold and gray clouds posed a mild threat of rain as we headed off.  The area we were going was at the higher end of town and I thought things would clear up.  Just the opposite was true.  Fog had socked in the foothills and visibility was about a quarter of a mile. It had been so long since I had been out here, and so much had changed, I was having a tough time finding a place to park.

Finally we found a spot.  I pulled my bike out and let Buster run around the truck for a bit.  I offered him some water before climbing in the pedals.  I started the odometer on the bike.

We were off.  My plan was to jog Buster for a mile or so looping back to the truck.  Then I would put him back in his crate and head off to explore some of my old haunts.  Buster was right by my side at first.  He was jogging along at a nice easy pace.  It felt good to be out there again getting some exercise.

The fog slowly burned off as Buster went from one side of the bike to another. I swear sometimes he has this look on his face that says, "What the hell is wrong with you?  Do you know how many interesting smells we just passed up?"  Occasionally he would try to bite at my pant leg to try and slow me down.  He is a herding dog after all.

We did our mile plus loop.  Once back at the truck he got some water and wandered around before in the crate he went.

My ride went on for another 45 minutes or so and when I got back we did some hiking near the truck to get some photos.  Buster has a healthy curiosity.  Thankfully he has a good recall.

We even worked on some retrievals.  I smeared one of the training treats on a stick and threw it about twenty feet.  It was real easy for him to find.  He doesn't always bring it all the way back to me.  I'm going to have to work with him on that.  After a couple of times though, he was off to catch up on some of those incredible smells he missed while running beside the bike.

We thought he might be a little more tired after exerting himself, but I think he has a high gear for sleeping too.  By the end of the night, Buster was the least tired of us all.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

This Boy Can Eat

The other day after breakfast Buster looked hungry.  I had given him the usual cup and a 1/4  or so.  I thought I would dump another cup of food in his bowl and whatever he did not clean up, I would put back in his food bin.  He is a magician.  Presto Change-O the bowl was as clean as the day I bought it!  This week Buster weighed in at 32.5 lbs.  He has tripled his weight in the 60 days I've had him!

He is now getting 2 cups in the morning, a cup and a half for lunch, and a cup and a half for dinner.  He is sleeping through the night and wakes up when we do around 6 am.  We will go out and feed the horses and then he gets to eat.  He's got about half an hour of wrestling with Rusty before he needs a nap.  That allows me to shower and shave without worrying what he might get into.  Then it's off to work.

Yesterday I put him in the back seat of the truck.  I think he prefers me being the chauffeur.  He generally sits up and looks out the window for awhile before curling up on his towel.  This morning he asked that I pull his truck around and take him to Petsmart to refill our quickly dwindling food supplies.  We met up with Belle, a pit/shepard mix, shopping in the same aisle.  After a few pleasantries they both thought they should be able to play.  I must teach Buster the importance of his "inside voice" because I got a boisterous rebellion after informing him the store aisles were no place to romp around. He let me know that he had never been talked to in this manner from a chauffeur and that if I continued I would be forced to seek employment elsewhere.

He headed over the the cat food aisle to look for dropped morsels of kibble while I picked out some delicious flavors for the fellas at home.  When he was ready, I once again pulled his truck around and gently lifted him to throne in the rear.  (Now I understand why people get Pomeranians)

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Clicker Training

Using the Clicker

Buster can wear me sometimes. I find it happening most on the weekends when we are at home. There is so much more to get into, Rusty to wrestle with, cats to chase, and horse poop to eat.  I catch myself saying only negative things to him: "NO", "STOP IT!", "OFF", "QUIT".  It's not very enjoyable and it's not good for one's psykie (sp).

At the office things are different because if he gets up, I take him for a walk and we are moving. While as we were headed for one of our walks out of the building I ran into a guy and we started talking. He used clicker training. I had tried the clicker with Max, but never quite got the hang of it. When I got home I checked out a few videos on YouTube (

I think it is called operant training.  You use the clicker to quickly acknowledge the positive behavior and then follow it up with a reward.  Dogs can do things so quickly that the more immediate you can give them a response, the more quickly the dog will learn.  Some people have used the analogy that when you "Click" the clicker think of it like the shutter of a camera and you are taking a picture of the behavior you want to reinforce.

It seems you have to learn a few things before moving forward, but I thought I had a clicker around the house somewhere.  After digging around in the den, I finally found it and it still worked.  I started by "loading" it, which is just clicking and giving a treat.  Teaching Buster that the clicker sound means a treat is coming soon.

We've just been working on it for a short time, but I can tell you that it has given some relief to all the negative commands.  I get to run the clicker and reward it with some food.  I've still got to learn more about it, but I think we'll give it a go for the next couple of weeks and see what we can accomplish.

Friday, December 12, 2014

The Crate Escape

Crate Training

Sometimes it is too much.  Sometimes he is crazy.  It's as simple as that.  He is a dog after all.  And, while realizing that he can't help it, sometimes I'm just not in the mood to put up with it.  The safety net:  The Crate Escape.

Today was rainy.  I had some audio editing to finish up.  I like editing, but it's tedious.  Buster is a good distraction requiring a break every 90 minutes or so...Unless I just need another twenty minutes to be done and HE can't wait.  

That's what happened to day.  I took a break and gave him a walk.  It was wet and we could not go far.  I brought him back to the office and played ball with him.  Then played rope.  Then did a little training.  He was still antsy as, what's the saying, "a long tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs".

I managed to get the last few minutes of work done - barely - between him pulling down my coat, nibbling on the cabinet, chair and three-hole punch.  I kept him occupied while I shut the computers down, packed up my stuff for the weekend and got ready to leave.

Maybe it's the weather that makes him crazy, maybe it's just the time of day.  He has been heeling decently most of the week, but with my arms full of camera and briefcase, trying to negotiate the puddles he was all over the place.  Heaven forbid a stick or leaf go un-sniffed.  Once in the truck - boom - out like a light. 

At home he is in the able paws of Rusty.  She is ready to play.  She doesn't like it when he grabs hold of her tail, but other than that they wear each other out.  You can see his tenacity when they are playing.

Then there is the crate.  Generally we just use it at night, but during  pleas of temporary insanity, we use it for time outs.  Sometimes he barks for awhile when we put him in there, but the result so far has been the same - Ranae, Rusty, the cats, and I feel this wonderful sense of calm.  When he gets too crazy it's Cool Hand Luke time.  I think it was Dub Taylor in the movie who I mimic by saying, "We're gonna get your mind right.  You bark once and it's 15 minutes in the hole.  You chase a cat and it's an hour."  He never says in there as long as the warden orders. He always gets out for good behavior.  Buster has never seen the movie.  We'll have to rent it for him one day.  Maybe it will help my impersonation.  Maybe it'll just help him get his mind right,

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Twenty Nine Forever

We know it's impossible for him to stay twenty nine forever in either age or weight.  Buster is tipping the scales at 29 lbs as he continues to grow.  He can be the most regal looking dog at times and then two seconds later he is a complete goofball.  He can go from sleeping peacefully - as he is doing now - to holy terror, teasing Rusty and chasing cats.

We are walking, walking a lot.  He is not too bad at the heel except he has the puppy mentality. We'll be walking down the sidewalk and he telegraphs through the leash, "WAIT!!  Wait! Look at this.  WE gotta check this out." at every leaf, piece of trash, cigarette butt and even dark spot in the path.  But he does it with such enthusiasm, that hey, quite often I DO have to check it out.

His sense of smell is incredible.  I tried some training the other night with a few training treats in my sweatshirt pouch.  We were working on retrieval.  I had one of his rope toys and I was trying to get him to "Take It".  He grabbed at it on command, I rewarded him the first time with praise.  The second time I rewarded him with the training treat.  "Whaaaat?!  Where did that come from?  Here? Here? Oh, right here.  There are more right there.  I want those.  Gimmee one.  C'mon.  I know they are there.  Wanna play hide-and-seek?  Good I'm in!"

I tried to continue and we were able to get one or two more retrievals, but that was it.  His focus was gone.

I've noticed he is getting more social with strangers. Some people just don't know how to approach a dog, especially a weary one.  Actually, I'm not sure how much I would have taken it into consideration before owning a dog like Buster.  Some people will bark at him or whistle.  I'm sure he would not mind those noises, I just think he has to get to know you first.

One thing I have noticed about people that approach him that I find fascinating: some people don't even acknowledge me.  It is almost as if they are approaching a stray dog on the streets.  I'll even offer up a "Good Morning" and they will talk to Buster, but I'm invisible.  There are not a lot of those people and I like having fun with them by trying to see if I can say anything that will make them realize I'm there.  

"Buster is training for Afghanistan.  Before he smells you I need to know 'What nationality are you?'"

"Have you ever seen a reverse albino Chocolate Lab?"

He definitely remembers places.  We walk by the Sequoia Sandwich shop where Melissa works.  Melissa knew Max and she was one of the first people Buster met.  He was leery, she was patient.  On the third visit, I gave Melissa a Milkbone to give to Buster.  Later, we sat outside and had lunch.  Buster got to sit under the table and find the multitude of fallen morsels left by unsuspecting patrons.

This morning we were about a quarter block away when Buster's tail started whirling like a helicopter rotor.  "What is it Buster?"  He was staring straight at the sandwich shop and started pulling me along.  He knew there was some good petting, great smells, and maybe, just maybe, something good to eat right there on the corner.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

He Is Growing, Not Grown

Judging His Juice

Buster has an amazing amount of energy at times.  It's difficult to tell at times just how much he has left in the tank.  Sometimes it takes a little reminder that he still is not even 6 months old yet.  So, when we take him out with the horses and he is full of piss and vinegar, we think he can go forever.  When we started the trail ride he was doing great.  About 20 minutes in, we realized we were going to wear him completely out.  We were meeting up with friends at a lunch spot, so Ranae helped me get him in the saddle and Jessie and I carried him for about 15 minutes.  

After the break, he went for another 15-20 minutes on the ground before we hit a high traffic area.  He was happy to get back in the saddle and we met up with our friends.  They were kind enough to drive him back to the trailer and we rode the horses back.  

He was glad to see us and he slept well that night.

I found the above video in one of my folders.  I seem to have them everywhere.  This one cracks me up because he is looking around for a cat to chase.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Long Days Together

Ah, the life of a working dog.  Thanksgiving was a bit tough on the Bustmeister.  While we spent time with family across town he was crated.  It was longer than he was used to, but he can not be trusted on his own, so we were left with no other options.  To make it up to him, we spent all day Friday together.

We've been needing a new(er) truck for quite some time now.  One that had a little muscle to pull our two-horse trailer on the longer trips we can now take with the horses.  I am not crazy about car shopping.  I thought we would go look at a couple of models and then come home and go riding.  We took Buster along.  We left at 9 am and got home around 7 pm with a new truck.  Buster was a pretty good boy sleeping in the dealer's office as we went through all the rig-a-ma-roll of the process.  He was also a great source of stress release during those long periods they keep you waiting.

So he had a day spent in the crate, followed by a day of getting dragged around looking at trucks, and we still felt he needed more.

Today, we took the new truck on a shakedown cruise with the horses and Buster came along.  It was his first "official" tag-a-long on a ride.  Again, he did great!  It was unusually warm - almost 80 degrees!  We were in an open part of the trail near the Kern River.  Buster followed along with us as we rode down the trail.  There were a couple of egrets.  I don't even think he saw them.  He was too busy keeping an eye on us.  We did not ride very far.  His tongue was hanging out.  We went back to the trailer for a short break, then went the other direction for a bit.  He looks like he is going to be a great trail dog.

Tomorrow it's back out to the river for a ride with the nephews.  We will likely be leading the horses as the kids ride, so he won't get so worn out.  We'll see what happens.

Checked his weight today and he was 24 1/2 pounds before dinner.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Improving Our Social Skills

That's not the royal "Our". That actually means both of our social skills.  Both Buster's and mine.  When you travel with a puppy, people stop and engage.  And they should.  Puppies are happiness.  They are not puppies for very long.  I say spread the happiness while you can.

Most people want to ask about my puppy so they can tell me about their dog.  I love that too.  Hearing about their dog.  The stories they tell.  Just the fact that they have a story right there, ready to go, usually tells you they are good people.  And, when they tell you about their dog, you can see the smile and joy on their faces.  Then the best part happens.  They take that smile and joy and pet my dog.  Cha. Ching.  The big payoff.

The look on Buster's face is priceless.  He is wondering what he did to deserve the affection cascading around him.  He still is a bit on the weary side of most people at first.  But, it's fun to see him warm up to people, learn to trust, and get patted on the head.

As for me, I just need to make sure to add some time to everything I do.  When people stop us, I want to be able for both of us to take it allllll in.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Buster on a Down

We are just looking for the concept here.  I used a few treats.  Buster is very food motivated.  I wonder if that came from having 10 brothers and sisters.  Either way we are calling this a SUCCESS!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Training in Earnest

Training in Earnest

Well, it's time to really start working on our training.  We've had Buster for a month now.  He is growing incredibly fast.  With that growth comes independence and he is trying to exert it. His attention span is about as long as it takes a hummingbird to flap his wings.  He has selective hearing.  He is getting stronger.

He has the basic Sit understood although if there is ANY distraction at all, that's out the window.  If there is a scary noise or something going on nearby, that's also a reason to bolt.

We've been working on the Stay and if there is a bowl of food in front of him, he is pretty good.  If any of the above referenced conditions are present, poof he's gone.

The Down has been a challenge.  When he sits the first thing he wants to do is scratch his collar, so I have no attention.  Then, when I offer the command and get no response, if place him in the down position.  Just the act of touching him makes him forget what we were doing.  I started using the step-on-the-leash technique I saw championed at Petsmart.  We'll see if it helps.

Monday night Ranae was out playing tennis.  She had text-ed me she was on her way home.  I put Buster outside to greet her which he did admirably.  When she let him in, like Paul Revere, he thought it was his duty to alert me.  He dashed through the kitchen into the living room.  At full speed he leaped to the coffee table, slide a bit, then hopped and crashed next to me on the sofa.  I wanted to laugh so hard, but this was not a behavior we want to encourage.  It broke my heart to give him a big "NO" and set him back on the floor.  The thing I'm learning about Catahoulas though, is that's not going to stop him.

Oops, forgot to put his weight down. He officially doubled his weight in four weeks. He now weighs in at 23 lbs.  

Monday, November 17, 2014

Older, Longer, Full of Juice

As I sit here writing this Rusty has chosen to stay outside for a little peace and quiet.  Buster's "switch" is on. Excuse the typos as one eye has to remain on him. Friday he got his final puppy shot and we felt safe to take out to larger, more public places.  Buster is getting long and lanky as he is reaching the three-month mark.  
We went to a horse show/Cowboy Christmas event yesterday. It was here in town, but it was an all day thing. We left here with the horses and trailer around 8:30 am and got home around 5:30....excuse me he has lost his toy under the chair, be right back. Okay, he chased his ball down the hallway and brought it back several times. Between me and Rusty maybe his is winding down. Nope.

Back to Sunday...we walked him around the crowd and he got to meet a lot of people. There were also horses everywhere. He did really well. He doesn't seem like he'll be the dog that goes bouncing up to people, but maybe.  He took everything in and I think he liked being out and about. 

When we had to ride our horses, Buster stayed in his crate quietly. The only time he was a handful was when I was in the arena and Ranae was trying to take pictures. She said he was figetting and whining - he's a Papa's boy for sure. 

The last couple of mornings he has slept until five. We go out and share a pee in the dark and he goes back in the crate if I want another little snooze (some mornings I just get up and start the chores).  The feeding goes like this:  Buster has to sit while I prepare everyone's bowls - cats and dogs.  Then, I take Buster's bowl outside.  I rush inside and, cue Mission Impossible music here, distribute all the other bowls as quickly as possible. The mission, should the cats choose to accept it, is to finish in about four and a half minutes. Buster is up to over a cup three times a day and he is quick about it. 

Buster taking a boot break
Once the cats are finished bowls have to be picked up because Buster really likes cat food and will go bouncing around the kitchen trying to reach every bowl he can smell. Then it is about an hour of outside while I feed the horses and muck stalls. He and Rusty usually romp around for a bit until nap time. 

When it's time to go to work he just lays there. I have to put his collar on and entice him to the truck for the ride to work. He's like I was as a lazy teenager. Once there he'll get a bit more rest before our mid-morning walk. 

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Eleven Weeks Old

Buster is growing up!  Eleven weeks old already. He weighed in before dinner at 17.5 lbs. He is eating more than three cups of food per day and still has the audacity to look around for more!  In comparison, Rusty gets two.

This morning he slept in the longest he has yet. He did not get me up until 5 am. I think he was more hungry than having to go outside, although he happily did both in no time at all. He is great at helping feed the horses and clean the pens. As far as the cats go, I think he is a little better except for when the "puppy devil" enters his soul. He can't really control himself. It happens when he is playing with Rusty too.  He gets so excited he starts barking. I find that quite annoying and sometimes the only exorcism is a "time-out" in the crate. It usually works wonders. 

A couple of times I've had meetings at work and have had to place Buster in his carrier in the truck for awhile. He seems to tolerate it well. The weather is cool enough I don't have to worry about him.  The best part is he is always happy to see me.  

He still has puppy ADD as far as his training goes. He hasn't quite got the concept of "Down". His "Stay" is very good as long as there is no other distraction. ;)

We have a vet visit scheduled for Friday for his last puppy shot. 

Monday, November 10, 2014

He Is Growing So Fast

It's only week three.  It is amazing how fast he is growing both mentally and physically.  While still somewhat timid in public situations, he has to problem being a little shit at home.  He and Rusty really go at it and you think they are killing each other.  We try to keep them separated but they just keep going back for more.  If it gets too intense, buster gets a "time out" in the carrier.

We wanted to go for a ride in Tehachapi over the weekend.  We had three choices for what to do with Buster:  a) leave him in the yard with Rusty, b) leave him in the kennel for the 6+ hours we would be gone, or c) take him with us and leave him in the kennel for only the couple of hours we would be actually riding.  We opted for "c" and he did well.  He was barking when we got back to the trailer, but he really had to go.  We took him for about 100 yard ride with the horses.  He was worried at first, then just followed along with us.

The folks at the winery invited us in the tasting room and everyone fawned over him.  He was worried, but then they brought out some treats and all was well.We spent about an hour there and he slept most of the time by my feet.

He is healing - kinda - and sitting.  He doesn't listen worth a darn.  He plays in his own world.  He is eating enough for three dogs.  But, he did his first "down" for me today, so we are making progress.

Friday, November 7, 2014

The Training Dilemma

What to Train and When to Train It

Buster is getting old enough to understand some things - not all things, of course - but SOME.  Those are the situations and opportunities for training we are taking advantage of right now.

Chasing cats:  

Buster thinks this is great fun.  Cats, not so much.  It started with the cats waiting at the front door wanting to get out as Buster would come in.  Right inside the door it was showdown time eye-to-eye.  The cats would turn to hightail it and Buster, being happy he was now inside the house would playfully follow along.  Meanwhile Ranae or I would be standing at the door having little power to do anything.  The solution:  Have a small lead right at the front door.  Slip it over Buster's head before letting him in.  The cats will still run, but Buster cannot follow.

Jumping up:

We almost have this one licked.  (Oh, how I will probably hate myself for saying that.)  We have started adding the word "Off" as we ask him to get his front paws off the sofa, coffee table, or chair.  He still does this when he wants to search out morsels of food that may have been left behind, but the word is replacing us having to physically remove his front feet from whatever item.

Chewing on unwanted items:

Again, we've added a word, "Leave It" to having our fingers physically remove something from his vise-grip jaws.  This one hasn't quite taken hold yet, but we have just started.  We usually replace the unwanted item with one of his toys.  

The key is trying to be consistent, use words, and categorize behavior while still letting him enjoy the wonders of puppy-hood and discovery.  It is also trying to discern what the behavior he is exhibiting today will look like when he is an adult.  Chasing cats is fun now, but could be lethal later on.

We'll keep adding things as we go along and feel he can handle it.  We'll replace some unwanted behaviors with some positive training such as scent tracking, retrieving, or obedience.  

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

We're Very Bullish on Buster

Oh, if only the stock market went up like Buster's weight.  16 lbs!!!  I'm buying Roundup - we need some weed control.

The worming medication gave Buster some runny stools.  Finally, yesterday morning he passed some nasty looking roundworms.  Roundworms are only supposed to get 6-7 inches long.  Some of these were at least three.  (I really didn't look too closely)  I think his tummy was upset because he was off his meals a little bit too.  It's funny, before the worm medication I would moisten his food.  After worm medication he didn't touch moistened food.

His training is coming along.  He has a very nice "Sit", except it is in front.  He has just the slightest hint of a "Stay".  His recall is good if you're kneeling.  We just started working on the "Down".

Our socialization continues.  Now that he has had his second shot we are venturing more places.  People can't resist Buster's green eyes.  He doesn't always appreciate the attention, but I think he coming along nicely.

I had a meeting today and had to leave him in the kennel in the truck.  It was a cool day.  He stayed in the cab with the windows opened.  My meeting lasted about 90 minutes.  He tolerated very well and took the time to catch up on some napping.  When he is in sleep mode he is the devil to wake up.  After lunch we walked Ranae back to work - the long way - well over a mile by her tracking app.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Our Visit to the Vet

Buster and Rusty
Friday was vaccination day.  Buster's appointment was late in the afternoon.  We had a real nice day with an early morning walk and I got some work done in the office while he slept.

It was eerie for me entering the hospital and later the very same exam room I spent the final moments with Max.  That's the deal you sign on for with dogs.  Each one is a chapter and they will over lap.

Buster was reserved in the waiting room.  I kept him in my lap.  Who knows what germs might be roaming around.  Once in the exam room he seemed to enjoy the stainless steel table.  I played with the controls moving it up and down and giving him a ride.

Our vet is Dr. Rose.  She is sweet and, more importantly, had treats.  At first Buster was a little suspect, then had a "Oh-what-the-hell" moment and started scarfing them down as fast a possible.  He held puppy still while she checked his heart.  His nose was scrounging for a treat when she inserted the thermometer and he was far too distracted to even notice the injection.

We had brought a stool sample to be tested for parasites.  To my surprise they sent this test out to a lab in Los Angeles.  When I worked there back in the seventies, we did them in-house.  It was one of the first diagnostic tests I learned.  It is a quick and simple test.  A tube, sodium hydroxide if I remember correctly, a microscope and a slide.  They were done before the vet entered the exam room.  Nope, I would have to wait for the results to come in tomorrow.

At check out, I talk with the receptionist about my time there and asked if my old and first ever boss was still around.  To my surprise, Dr. F is 92 years old!

With Family Friend, Cyd
I was surprised at the high cost of the first visit - nearly eighty dollars.  The fecal test was $38!  Yeah, I know I'm showing my age, but our old way 40 years ago was $6.

Saturday, I got the call to come by and get some medication because, yes, Buster had roundworms.  Medication was dispensed in powder form (another $20) with instructions once a day for three consecutive days.

It was a little disturbing that Buster started having a loose stool late Saturday afternoon.  By evening it was quite runny.  Was this a reaction to the shot?  The worming medication?  No evidence of worms were showing up on his back end and from experience I knew that was sometimes the case.

Late in the evening I gave him a touch of Imodium and he slept until 4am.  His stool was still runny but his appetite was good and he was playful.  We slept on the living room floor until sunrise.  The guy is a cuddler.

He has good energy today, though still loose.  He's a puppy.  I'm sure this is all just part of the process.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Shopping For Toys

Buster definitely needs some new toys. He doesn't seem to be very interested in our most popular toy, the squeaky ball. Rusty can't get enough. I think Buster is just now coming into an improving eyesight where he can see more detail. I think his interest in the ball will greatly improve. He loves chewing on his rope, a big foot-long 1 1/2" blue and white rope with a knot on each end. And, he really likes baling twine. While trying to write the first sentence he tore to the back bedroom, grabbed one of my dirty socks and headed back at full tilt...twice.

This morning we headed to Petsmart to do a little shopping. Buster is too young to go into the store.  We'll do that after he gets his next vaccine on Friday. I didn't want to leave him in the truck unattended, so I loaded up his carrier in the back seat. Buster did very well while I was gone. 

The dog toy business seems quite strong. I hadn't realized you could buy deer antler chew toys for $20!!!  Sorry, Buster, I went for the three nylabones for $9. But, hey, they ARE flavored!  So far his favorite seems to be the peanut butter. Like father, like son. 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Weigh Day

Day 8:  We'll make Tuesdays weigh day.  He came in at 12.5 lbs  That's about a pound and a half weight gain in a week.  Amazing.  A 10% increase.

He continues to sleep about the same amount at night.  He is good walking on the leash.  We're even working on a few sits, stays, and comes in a playful manner.

Last night there was a post on Facebook about "high drive" dogs.  I had heard the term, but it seems like our language is full of terms that don't necessarily mean any thing.  We got our first taste of Buster's high drive.  He had a fifteen minute burst like someone had given him a Red Bull.  He tore around the living room, around Rusty, dodged a few cats before pouncing on his chew toy.  I think I just sat there mesmerized mouth agape.  Oh, it's going to be a ride.....

Monday, October 27, 2014

Canine Philosophy

Our K-9 Philosophy

Editor's Note:  My philosophy notes may sound a bit technical or regimental form time-to-time, but that's only because it is written down.  Believe me, we're raising Buster with a very fluid philosophy.  Ranae and I discuss and come to a consensus on many of the ways we interact with him.  Please feel free to comment about them at the end of the post.

We've owned dogs most of our adult lives.  They have all had, of course, their own unique personalities.  A dog is a bigger commitment than most folks consider.  If you are lucky, you'll have the dog for a decade or longer.  The habits and tendencies they develop will be something YOU have to live with for a long time.

The partners I've had over the years have taught me much - both in what to do and what NOT to do.  Firstly, they've demonstrated the ability to learn at a very young age.  That doesn't mean you can't let them be a puppy and do their crazy puppy shit, but you can also teach them far more than where to pee and poop at nine weeks of age.

I think Buster is going to be quite a headstrong dog.  He has a tenacity to him.  That's one of the characteristics of his breed.  My challenge is how to channel that tenacity.  Catahoulas will try and exert their dominance in the pack.  I'm hoping to develop a confident dog that does not always have to exert his influence.

Our first week has been really just been working on our bond.  Buster has had a lot to learn about the household: how to interact with our other dog, Rusty, and the five other cats; about the crate and his sleeping arrangements; about feeding protocols; and, of course, elimination schedules.  That's quite a curriculum for an 8 week old in a new environment.  He's done fairly well with everything.  He's shown a lot of love and affection.  He has a great sense of humor and is also a bit of a clown.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Ah the First Weekend

It's great to have another set of eyes on Buster.  Ranae and I can take turns playing and watching him.  He looks to get into everything, he is a puppy after all.  We have tinkering with his feeding schedule a bit.  We are trying to tweak it to help him get his play and sleep time more in sync with our own.

The boy has an appetite.  We tried him with 3/4 of a cup of dry food and he was still looking for more.  I bumped it up to a full cup last night, but I think it was a bit much.  We'll keep it at 3/4 cup four times a day for now.  He is a nose surfer, always looking for a bit of kibble dropped on the floor or running his nose along the edge of the coffee table to see if any snacks may have been left behind.

He has discovered the delicacy of horse poop.  Rusty taught him that.  He also also a good appetite for hoof pieces.   The farrier came the day after we brought Buster home.  I've collected as many of the pieces as I could find, but Buster's nose is stronger than my eyes.

This morning he slept until about 5 am.  He has gotten very good at going outside to pee.  As with any puppy this age, you just kinda have to let them figure things out.  The cats are tolerating him more and more.  We have to be a bit careful because during his "high energy" times his motor is revving and he wants to chase everything.

The crate is working well as long as we don't try to put him in there during one of his energy periods.  We've found it best to play hard and just as he is winding down, place him in there.  He fights it for a short time, then dozes off.  We me trying to take him everywhere I go he may have to spend some time in the crate inside the truck.  Right now the temps have cooled off.  It will be interesting to see how he handles that when the time comes.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Oh, How We Long for the Good Ole Days

Oh, How We Long for the Good Ole Days... 

Which were like two days ago.  Buster is gaining confidence.  He also has begun his training.  He is not allowed to jump up anymore.  And, he's not allowed to use us as a chew toy.  The jumping has improved quite a bit.  We use the gentle knee bump timed to set him back a bit.  The chewing I'm sure will be a much tougher problem.  He has his toys, but as most puppies, he prefers our socks, the throw on the sofa, or Rusty's tail.  Rusty is helping keep her in line.

Buster slept through the night.  He woke around 5 am and I let him out.  We walked around a bit after his constitutional and, because he had some energy, we played for a bit.  My normal start time is around 6 am.  Instead of placing him back in the crate for an hour we laid on the floor.  He played with his toys for about 15 minutes then he curled up next to me and was just about ready to fall asleep when one of the cats wanted out.  I got up, he waited in "our" spot.  A couple of minutes later he was slipping into sweet Morpheus when he was attacked by - duh, duh, dunnnnn - puppy hiccups!  Eventually we got about a cat nap's worth of shut-eye and were ready for a hearty breakfast at six.

Ready To Walk
We have just about transitioned him over to our house brand of food, Blue Buffalo.  He is getting almost a full cup in the morning, about half a cup at noon, about 3/4 cup at dinner, and 1/2 a cup an hour before bed.  His stools have been good.  He's only had one accident in the house and that was because I need to grab a jacket before taking him out and he couldn't wait.

Our walks are growing longer.  He still is afraid of almost anything that makes a noise, but his fear is getting less and less.We walked by the train today and the air brakes gave him a terrible fright.  We kept moving and everything was okay.

It's just about time for we go!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Well, That's Not Fair

4:40 am:
Buster slept most of the night. I heard him stir and before he could move around too much I was up and had him outside. He seems to know the words "potty time". He took care of business rather quickly. I gave him some "atta boys", and back in the house we went.  He is still small enough to pick up.  I scooped him up, gave him a couple of snuggles, then placed him back in the kennel.  

Boy, did we hear about it it!  He is just now quieting down after nearly half an hour of barking. He has a point too.  I hope he'll sleep just a little longer tomorrow and we can just get up and start the day.   It's just not fair to get him up, let him run around, then expect to go back to sleep.  And, I'll need to work on the stark contrast of having him safe and comforted in my arms one sec and lonely and in his kennel the next.

He is getting pretty good at the recall.  I gotta work on my whistle.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Our Third Day


I had "Liked" a pet shelter page on Facebook that was located in Texas.  The name escapes me now - I'll add it later.  (It is called Friends of Weatherford Animal Shelter.)  One of the photos that came across my feed was of a lost dog that was available for adoption.  They called it a Catahoula, a name that sounded vaguely familiar, but I could not recall any traits of the breed.
Max, our trusted Australian Shepard, has been gone for three months now.  We were back in the dog market.  I had looked at a "rescue", but the dog just wasn't the right fit.  We have another older dog, Rusty, and five cats, along with two horses.  It's easy to disrupt our household.  I wanted to make it as painless as possible.

About a week after seeing the shelter pic, I was taking photos of a horse training event about an hour away.  The wild horses being cared for on private land were the charitable beneficiaries of the event.  A silent auction including photos of the horses and handmade art were included.  There was also a listing for a Catahoula pup.

I searched out the donor and breeder of the puppies.  We had an extended conversation about breed characteristics and temperament.  I knew that if I got another Aussie he would be compared to Max and that seemed unfair.  This breed was labeled as smart, energetic, and short-haired (a handy trait when owning other furry creatures).

I bid and won.  The pup would be ready on the 21st.  I would have three males to choose from and picked the red one who first approached me.  It was a difficult choice.  With a litter of eleven it was chaos.   I liked the fact that this puppy was curious about the world around him, but kept coming back to check on his humans.

Between the time I won the bid and the time to pick up the dog I did a little more research.  Catahoulas are a combination of many breeds.  They are determined herders with a mind of their own.  They believe in pack hierarchy.  Obedience training is  must.  These are all things I am ready to handle.

We flip-flopped over a few names.  I landed on Buster. Buster has a good ring to it.  Our last Buster was a cat - a stray - who was tough as nails, courageous, and loyal (the food thing helped that).

So, it's on to this life.  A dog's life.  Raising a puppy happens about once every 10-15 years for us.  I forget how or what the last one was like.  I'll chronicle a few things here for the next time if needed, or as a resource for others out there.

Today, Buster officially turned eight weeks old.  He weighs 11 lbs.  He was born on 8-22-14

Monday the drive home was uneventful.  We crate train.  He had a little accident the first day in the crate.  He also had a slightly loose stool.  We are transitioning him from the breeders food to our brand, Blue Buffalo.  We've chosen not to use puppy food.  Some believe it fuels quick growth that causes bone or joint problems later on.  I am not so concerned about this as I am hoping he may not reach his full size potential of 70 lbs.  Fifty-five to sixty lbs. would be just great.  He woke up three times during the first night and I let him out.  He promptly did his business and returned to the crate.  He cried for about 15 minutes the first time, ten minutes the second, and five the third. Once in the crate, we leave him be.  We do not talk to him or let him see us.

Last night, he cried a bit longer the first time we put him in.  He slept about half the night.  I let him out.  His crate was clean.  He did his bidness.  Once back in he whimpered a bit then slept until WE woke him at 6 am.

The breeder had been just giving him straight dry kibble.  I started adding a small amount of warm water to the food and I think that helped the digestibility because coincidentally his stools started firming up.  I am feeding him about 1/2 to 3/4 cup of food four times a day.  We'll have him re-checked for parasites a week from Friday when he gets his next vaccination.

He has had his first shot and worming.  On October 16th he got Parvovirus, Distemper, Adenovirus Type 2, Parainfluenza.

I start training from day one.  This conflicts with many who feel the puppy should be isolated from public areas for fear of disease.  I weigh these risks.  This is golden teaching and bonding time.  I am not going to stay home and be isolated with him.  Plus, he's just been separated from his ten brothers and sisters.  The interaction, bonding, and training are more important than the risk of disease. I do limit his exposure by not taking him to dog rich areas, but we do walk the public streets.

There you have it.  Feel free to comment.  Raising dogs is like raising kids - everyone has slightly differing opinions and that's okay.  I hope to chronicle how Buster's life goes and let's see what happens.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Welcome To Buster Brown Dog

Follow the life of Buster, our Louisiana Leopard Catahoula, from puppy to dog, from training to fun, from vets to adventures! Enjoy & Share!