Thursday, April 16, 2015

April Lucinda the dog update

We've had Lucinda for 16 weeks now. Almost four months. She's 11 months old.

When we took her to the vet in January, he said he wanted us to wait before we take her on any big, day-long hikes until she's at least a year old, because she needs to build up more muscle mass. Walking her three miles a day was no problem, but we shouldn't push her too hard. Now, three months later, Stefan said he thinks she's put on more muscle in her legs, as they don't look quite as skinny as they used to, and I agree. Her feet also don't look too large for her legs. She's still oh-so-skinny, and all legs, but she looks heartier than when we got her. But she's no taller than she was when we got her - she just looks taller, because she has so much more confidence.

Lucy finished her five weeks of dog training at Pieces of the Universe, a school for dogs run by my former across-the-street neighbor. Lucy loved it - the attention, the other dogs, the excitement, the together time, the smell of goats in the distance... Stefan did the training with her more than me - I usually stood to the side and watched. I wanted it to be their time. She left class knowing sitdown and stay, though she can't do any of those things if she's too excited. She can crawl for a treat when she's down, and Stefan also got her rolling over for a treat, but she doesn't know either on command. I'd like to keep doing weekly workouts with her here at our house, same day and same time, with Stefan, but it hasn't happened yet.

But she still doesn't understand come when she's off leash in the house or in the backyard. Not at all. Even high-value treats don't work. When she's on leash - on a walk, in the yard, even in the house -she gets it, even without a treat, and she gets it most of the time when she's off leash and playing with another dog - we test her frequently in those circumstances. We'll keep working on it - we know it's a trust issue more than a defiance issue. Lucinda loves us, but she still doesn't entirely trust us. Even with me, I have to trick her out of her crate for her morning walk: I walk into the utility room and close the door to the kitchen, then go out the side door, and stand there, outside, and count to 20 (to myself). Then I come back in, slide the door to go into the kitchen, and Lucy's usually out of her crate, standing in the dining room, and if I talk extra sweet, she'll lay down and let me put on her leash so we can go out - but sometimes, she still dashes back into her crate, and I have to start over.

She's only scared of me when it's time to walk. Maybe scared is the wrong word. I think she's just so excited that we're going somewhere that she comforts herself by running in the crate. If I can get the leash on her when she's inside the crate, she trots out once I'm done, no problem - relaxed that the anticipation of getting the leash on is now over.

Otherwise, she loves to cuddle, she loves to trot into our bedroom at 3 a.m. and lick Stefan's knee, and when we're at the dog park, she loves to get comforted when she runs over to us, in between running like the wind all around the place. Wow but she can move. It's a sight to behold!

I have a daily commitment for Lucy: that she will get to do three fun activities every day - meals don't count. The first of the day is always the same: our morning walk. Both of the other activities are usually a walk as well, one in the afternoon and one in the evening. But I like when one of those activities can, instead, be playing with another dog - in our back yard, across the street in the Methodists' big yard, in the nearby sports field next to the central school office, or best of all, the dog park at Thatcher Park.

Yes, I've been daring to let Lucinda off-leash, but only when we're across the street or in the almost-enclosed field next to the central school office, and only if there is another dog there that she wants to play with. While they play, every few minutes, I call her, and she always comes. Also, thanks to the dog classes, I know what to do when Lucy freaks out over something - talk to her gently, and keep the kibble coming - I wear a small bag full of food for all such ocassions. She no longer fears trash cans on the street, or large trailers parked somewhere today that weren't there yesterday.

She's curious of strangers, but won't automatically come to them. But if she knows you - yowsa, look out, here she comes! She loves Virgil, our neighbor from the group home for adults with disabilities, and when I put her on a line in the front yard so she can be with me while I garden, he sometimes lays with her, which she loves. On our walks, there are at least five houses at which she stops - she knows a dog lives there that she loves, or it's a house where she's been invited in. She never forgets the places and people she really likes.

Lucy and Gray Max the cat continue to be hilarious together. Max will come on command, and if he's near Lucy, she will follow him. Yes, our cat is a herding cat. Max still cuddles Lucy when he comes in the mornings and evenings, but still refuses to play with her. But I still think it's coming... I just hope that I can get their interactions on video.

I so regret not having any videos of Buster and Wiley... glad I have a few of Albi.

Lucy & Murree at playShe's had four dogs visit the back yard to spend time with her - so far. Yes, we have our own little dog park... One is Violet, a neighbor's dog, who isn't interested in playing with her at all - we had Violet over while her owners were away for the weekend, and she was more interested in being with Stefan and me than with Lucy. And, yet, Lucy is so happy whenever she sees her. Another is Bently, a Goldern Retriever who loves to run as much as she does - keep your knees bent when they are together, because if they run into you, you will go flying like a snooker ball. But her favorite guest is Murree, no question - at more than 200 pounds, he's no match for 40 pound, full-of-beans Lucy. Geesh but she loves him. And vice versa. I'm very glad to have videos of the two of them playing.

It will be interesting to read these blogs in a year or two, to see how our girl has changed...

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