Busy Long Weekend Ahead

Of course, for me, that simply means that there are reasons I’m expected to leave the apartment every day that aren’t work-related…and that sucks. Haha

If I could stay home, I would, most of the time. That’s part of the reason I’m always late for stuff. I have a difficult time leaving if I don’t really have to.

I’m also just kind of a jerk that way, I guess.

I love going home, though, after I’ve been out. I get such sweet greetings from the critters, for starters. And it’s like I can just relax and breathe again, which is nice. Being tense for all the time I spend away from home is exhausting! Haha

I’ve just learned one of my days away is going to be even longer than planned, which stresses me out a bit, but it’s true. It’s only one day. We’ll all get through it. I don’t look forward to all the stuff I’ll have to do between getting back and going to bed, so that won’t really be relaxing and breathing. But it’s only one day.

I can do that.

Speaking of critters, Brody and I did okay last night and this morning. I’m pretty sure some of the pack leader processes are just not going to work for me, but some will. Like, even though I have to struggle to keep Jack Bear out of his face, Brody is back to sitting before he gets treats. I’m trying to be consistent with it because I’m sure he’s wondering where the hell THAT rule came from all of a sudden. But he’d done it before, and he’s a smart guy, so he seems to be picking it back up pretty quickly again now. To me, it was not important to have him do stuff for my entertainment just to earn a reward – he earns them just by being him, as far as I’m concerned. But if it gives his brain a little something extra to do during the day, then it’s good for him, and therefore I am all about it.

The whole going through doors first isn’t exactly practical – my building doors close automatically, for example, and I don’t want to risk getting him stuck in or hit by one. He’s only little, guys! He already gets kicked a lot and stepped on by accident. I see no need to risk getting him bumped around more. My apartment door I’m trying to get us through more or less together. And stairs…just however we can get up and down them without either of us falling.

Walking…supposedly he’s supposed to walk beside or behind me, not in front. So far, he has always walked in front. Sometimes beside. There’s no way I want him walking behind me, though. I can’t keep and eye on him back there, and – to my mind – a walk is our time together. More for him than for me, even, but together nonetheless. Walking behind me is not together, and I’m just…no. Not doing it. I’ve got him walking next to me, more or less consistently, but he’s not always a fan. Plus, I can’t see his cute butt waddle as well as I can when he’s trotting out front. So while I am getting him used to walking next to me most of the time, I don’t think it’s going to be strictly enforced 100% of the time. Once we’re both comfortable with it, then I’ll go back to letting him trot a little bit ahead again. Not pulling, but not right next to me all the time, either.

That’s my plan, anyway. We’ll see how it goes and adjust from there.

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On Becoming Pack Leader

Had yet another incident this morning while out with Brody in which he lunged at another dog, almost without warning. This time, the other dog’s person was not understanding, in that he was not putting up with such behaviour and escorted his dog safely away immediately.

I felt terrible.

In talking about it with one of Brody’s treats ladies, who was with us at the time, I realized that one of his triggers might be the nose-to-nose greeting, particularly with dogs who are bigger than him. This was a puppy, but on the larger size, and she got right up in his face, right from the start, to which Brody said a whole lotta no. Apparently some dogs find that sort of greeting to be kind of stressful, and prefer to be approached from the side, instead. I noticed long ago that Brody shies away from direct frontal contact, even when it’s me reaching down to pet him. He prefers to ease into it, which I can fully understand.

Regardless, though, if things keep on like this, he’s going to get himself killed.

So naturally, I took to the internet, and delved into Cesar’s Way, website of Cesar Millan, the Dog Whisperer.

Now, I’ve stated several times – even as recently as yesterday – that I am not a good leader. This holds true for being a Pack Leader to Brody, as well, but in that case, neither of us can afford for me to not be one any longer. Really, I should have looked things like this up before Brody and I even met, but I was looking up a whole whack of stuff, trying to be prepared, and a person can only anticipate so much. Especially when one has never really realized that one would have to be a Pack Leader. I am the opposite of Alpha, so I have a lot of learning to do, anyway, but I think I’ve already taken great strides in just realizing that I have to come at all of it a different way.

Kind of like some of the lessons Hudson the polar bear taught me, actually. I saw things differently because of him, and now I am learning to see things differently because of Brody. It’s just time for teaching and learning between the two of us to stop being a one-way street. Brody needs me to lead, and so lead is what I’ll do.

Or I am learning to do.

One of Cesar’s rules is to live in the moment, not regret the past nor fear the future. Dogs live in the moment, and I need to, as well. Which I have already been thinking recently, anyway, I just needed a nudge to commit to it more resolutely. So instead of talking about what I will do, I’m attempting to talk about what I am doing. Or at least trying to do.

There is a lot to learn. And everybody is different so Brody and I will of course need to figure things out based on who we each are, but more importantly, who we are together. I just wanted so badly for him to love me – we came together because we’d both lost his girl and needed some extra love. While I have no intention of holding back affection, of course, I do intend to step up and be the Pack Leader he deserves. I now understand that’s what will create an even more loving bond between us than we already have.

Getting to know him has exceeded my needs and hopes from the get-go. Now it’s time for me to exceed his needs, too.

Love you beyond reason or measure, Brodykins. Time for us to both learn what that really means.

We got this.

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Learning Brody

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When little mister Brody Graham the Yorkie McPuppyFace first came to live with me, we were pretty much strangers to one another. I already loved him because of all I already knew about him from his people. To him, though, I was a virtual stranger. He did let me rub his belly pretty quickly that first night, which was a good thing. Not that he’s particularly choosey when it comes to potential belly rubs, I’ve learned, but still – it felt like a good step.

That first night was pretty riddled with anxiety for me. I’m already not good at adulting, and suddenly I had this sweet little guy – who was not a cat – requiring my care and attention. I was not yet one of his people, and my home was not yet his home. I had no idea how to read him – his moods, or what he wanted or needed. Every time he made a sound at ALL, I assumed he wanted to go outside, so I got up and took him out. Every few hours, pretty much. All night long.

I didn’t know if he would be too sad without his people he’d grown up with. I didn’t know how he’d do in an apartment, if he would bark at people in the hallway or be able to find the pee pad I left out for him when I went to work. I had no idea how he and the cats would do. And it turned out I’d never really walked anyone on a leash before, so basically he and I were all over the place for the first few days.

Lucky for me, Brody is pretty much the greatest dog in the world, and he took on every challenge and change like a champ. He is also very sweet and patient with me, and loves me even when I make mistakes.

Like when I accidentally made him fat and haven’t quite gotten all the weight back off.  Or that I don’t trust either of us to keep him safe if I let him go off-leash (except for when we go to the basement to do laundry together).

And we learn together, all the time.

brody Nov 25 2015

We’ve established some basic routines, despite my ineffectual leadership (I am not a very good Alpha, but I’m doing much better than I was initially), and I really love taking him for walks. I view it as our time together, and I treasure it. Except for when the weather is crappy. Then neither of us enjoys it and we both want to get back inside ASAP. He’s still stubborn sometimes, but we’ve found ways to work with it. At first, every time we went for a walk it was like a constant struggle. A battle of wills. What I liked to call a “directional difference of opinion”.

But something changed as we began to get used to one another. We found a rhythm of sorts – a sense of how to walk together instead of both of us trying to do different things. And I learned to pick my battles. It’s made both of us much more agreeable, really. I realized that I can let him choose when to stop and sniff around when we have more time, because so often on work days we don’t have that luxury and I have to rush him. So to make up for that, I let him slow me down on my days off. He’s taught me patience and makes me leave the apartment and talk to people and stuff. He makes me social. Kinda. More than I was before.

I mean, I see people out with their dogs all the time, and they barely even look at the dog, let alone interact and really be together. The dog seems more like an accessory, or something. Meanwhile, I can barely take my eyes off Brody. Partly to make sure he’s not eating something he shouldn’t, but mostly because he’s so damn cute. People come up to me all the time to meet him and pet him and talk about him. He just gives off this vibe, or something. People and other dogs are just drawn to him naturally, I think. I am in even more awe of him than they are, too, because they don’t know him like I do. I get to live with him and be around him for all his little noises and movements and silly random actions. I get the benefit of understanding that he just makes everything better, automatically. Just by being himself. Other people don’t get to see all that, which makes me lucky. That Brody lets me get to know him more and more each day makes me special.  It makes me part of his pack.

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I’ve learned how to hold the leash when I want him to stay more on one side or the other, and if I really want him to walk instead of sit and look around for an undetermined period of time, I’ve learned that I can carry him about 3 steps, and put him back down again, and he’s good to go. I’ve learned his memory is amazing, and his concentration can be very difficult to break if there is a chance treats may be involved.

I’ve learned that he drools like a machine for pineapple, McDonald’s fries, popcorn and pretty much any fruit. He also likes crackers and veggies. And cheese. He and I are both pretty ridiculous for cheese.

I learned to wash his face, especially around his eyes, regularly to prevent build-up of eye goo.  I’ve learned how he likes to be pet, and his favourite cuddling positions. I’ve learned which kind of toys he loves, and how he likes to play. I’ve watched him try to figure out how to play with the cats (who love him, by the way), and they all even try to groom each other from time to time.

I’ve learned what most of his little noises mean, and how to read his various moods. I’ve made up little songs for him – ditties, if you will – and he knows how to calm and cheer me when I am upset.

We’ve learned how to be family, and I couldn’t be more content and grateful and honoured. Well, every day I think I couldn’t possibly be any happier with him or love him more. But then every day I do love him more, so that expression doesn’t really apply here, I guess.

Anyway.  With his fake-looking little button nose and huge dark brown eyes, I think the only thing I really haven’t figured yet is how he deals with his own level of adorableness.

Because I sure as hell can’t.

Brody Nov 8 2015