You might be thinking – perfect? A 7-month-old puppy? Of course, Rocket isn’t perfect. In fact, he has been showing a lot of adolescent naughtiness lately. Tonight he stole my toothbrush off the bathroom counter – I won’t be using that again. And he and his partner in crime, who will remain nameless, have a new game: when I forget to close the laundry room door, they sneak in and make a beeline for what they view as their basket of tug toys (a.k.a. clean clothes), choose an item that looks to be a good candidate, and initiate an intense game of keep away, tug, and shred. Rocket has never been allowed on the furniture in our house- Helping Paws has good reason for this rule – but this morning I turned my back for a few seconds and noticed it was too quiet – I walked downstairs and found them wrestling on the bed. All of this isn’t Rocket’s fault, of course. He is only doing what a puppy naturally does. I just need to be more vigilant.
However, that kind of perfect really isn’t what I was referring to. What I mean by no longer perfect is the fact that we received word today that next week Rocket and his litter mates will graduate from Perfect Puppies class and become Awesome Adolescents! Whoo-hoo! I’m excited for us to move on. One of the differences in this class will be that I can bring Rocket into more public places; for instance, hardware stores, office hallways and the like; and, no, we’re definitely not ready for grocery stores yet; that will come much, much later. We had a little preview on a field trip to a hardware store with our class last week. All the puppies did amazingly well, and I was immensely proud of Rocket. He did a lot of loose leash walking, sit-stays, down-stays, and walked with me up and down some very crowded aisles. Interestingly, he didn’t pay a lot of attention to the items on the shelves, but scraps of paper or tape on the floor- now that got his attention!
Last weekend we had the privilege of watching one of his litter mates overnight – his sister Stella. It was really fun to observe the different personalities they have. Stella seems to be more energetic than Rocket – he really is pretty laid back. Stella was pretty cute – I put Rocket’s rug on the floor to practice his “Go To Bed” command, and she plopped herself right down next to him. I wonder what they remember about their time together in their first weeks of life?
We have a couple of new skills we’ve been working on. You may remember when Rocket learned to push doors and drawers closed a few weeks ago. Now we have a rocker light switch that he is learning to press with his nose. He took to that right away. And another skill is learning to tug. The first step was to get him to pull on something (an oven glove on my hand) instead of pushing it. The first time I tried this at home Rocket grasped the concept in about two minutes – I was astonished at how quickly he caught on. I had been expecting that since we had spent so much time working on “Push” that doing something completely opposite would be confusing to him. But apparently not. He continues to surprise me. He will eventually use the tug skill to take gloves or socks off, pull open doors, and other things I am sure. But for now he gets very excited when he sees the oven mitt come out. Before we became a foster family, we visited a Helping Paws class. After the class was over, one of the foster “moms” came up to introduce herself, and she told me to hold out my gloved hand to her dog. He ever so gently put his teeth over the very tips of my fingers and then carefully tugged off the glove; it was at that moment that I decided, “We’re going to do this,” because I was so impressed. So now it is really fun to be beginning this skill with Rocket.
Well, that’s about it for our update. This Friday we are going to a Helping Paws graduation – our first. I am planning to bring a box of Kleenex. I am looking forward to it, as I believe it will help put things into perspective. Sometimes it’s easy to lose track of why I’m doing this, and seeing the end result with other dogs will be good.