For those who missed out, a quick flashback:
About three weeks ago, we took the puppy plunge, adopted an 8-month-old shelter dog that is part… *coughcough* red dog and part… *hack wheeze cough* other dog. The shelter said “Lab mix.” The paperwork from the originating shelter said “Lab-spaniel mix.” I say “some kind of retriever and some kind of hound or maybe Rhodesian Ridgeback or maybe she’s just a mutt and let’s leave it at that.”
The puppy’s name was Peaches.
We changed it to Mauna Loa, or “Loa” for short.
You may think that’s an odd name, and it probably is. But! Our taco terrier is named Tai-shan (not after the Panda, because by golly, the terrier got here first), which is one of the five sacred mountains of China. Mauna Loa is one of the five volcanoes that make up Hawaii. So, both of our dogs are named after mountains (and Mauna Loa means “long mountain,” and this pup is a very long, lanky pooch).
Plus, B-Dub can say “Loa.”
There. Now you’re caught up.
So. How’s it going, you ask?
* * *
She is, by and large, an excellent dog. She’s a better dog than many adult dogs. She’s great with B-Dub, really good with guests, very submissive (but not so submissive she cowers and quakes and pees herself, which for the record is also a very good way to get out of social obligations).
She is, however, still a puppy. Possibly one of the most well-behaved puppies, but, y’know.
Which means, puppy problems.
She hasn’t eaten anything of ours that she’s not supposed to, which is a huge win.
She is only… partially housebroken. (And we don’t do full-bore crate-training. And no I don’t need a lecture about how great crate-training is. I don’t much care for it in theory or practice. You do as you like with your poochie and we’ll do as we like with ours.) She’s getting better, the accidents are dwindling.
She’s mouthy. I don’t mean she runs around spouting vulgarity (leave that to us): I mean, she just lost puppy teeth and is getting the big doggy teeth and so she occasionally likes to wrap those teeth around things like, say, your flesh. Not in a hurtful way (she’s actually quite gentle), but just the same, she’s doofy and clumsy and sometimes hits you with those teeth. Like a shark with its mouth closed, whack. But this “bitey-thing,” it’s improving. She’s getting much more… polite with the teeth.
She doesn’t bark much. Not a big whiner.
Periods of high puppy energy that needs to be directed lest it explode everywhere.
She walks great on the leash. Very calm, measured, right by my side.
We’re very lucky.
* * *
For the record, my training technique is like this:
I become a human pinata full of doggy training treats. My pockets hang heavy with them. Here’s the thing: the greatest reward you can offer your dog is attention. The treat is merely a manifestation of that attention: it’s you feeding them by hand and petting them and OH SO HAPPY PUPPY LOVE HUMAN PINATA PERSON. The dog basically has (for purposes of training) two modes of existence: the Angel and the Asshole. When the dog is being an Asshole, you deny them that which they most desperately seek: your attention. You ignore them. No play. No communication. They are canina-non-grata. When the dog is an Angel, you reward with love and, y’know, you make it rain with those motherfucking training treats.
So, over time, Angel wins out over Asshole.
There, that’s my training technique in a nutshell.
* * *
The old dog hates her.
Now, part of this is understandable, since the new puppy almost killed the old dog.
See, Loa came in with kennel cough.
The old dog caught kennel cough.
That swiftly developed into a bad respiratory infection.
So, the old dog suddenly looked like a zombie dog. Red, gooey eyes. Wet snorts and gurgly snurgles that sounded like she was trying to breathe through a pile of tapioca pudding. She was lethargic and didn’t want to eat and whenever Loa came near (WANT TO PLAY LET’S PLAY PLAY PLAY PLAY I BITE YOU I ROLL OVER I YAP PLAY EEEEEEE), Tai basically said, “I’m dying, fuck you,” and bit her.
Thankfully, we got the old dog meds.
The meds are almost over.
She has returned from the brink of zombification.
And, even better:
It looks like old dog doesn’t hate new puppy as much as she once did.
* * *
Oh, also, Loa the puppy is also suicidal.
She is quite fond of mushrooms. No, not the kind you buy in the grocery store. Rather, the kind you find peppering the lawn in, say, autumn. The kind that are mostly harmless except the ones that are, which is to say, the ones that are holy-fucking-toxic.
I could hire this dumdum out to mushroom foragers. She’s got a diligent nose that sniffs out the most well-hidden fungal delights in the forest. I turned the other day and found her jabbing her nose into the ground and wolfing something down. I pried her mouth open, got half a mushroom out.
And, of course, instantly panicked.
Because mushroom poisoning is like, a real thing. Dogs eat bad shrooms and instead of tripping out and going to a Phish show, they pretty much just… die instead. So suddenly it was a race to figure out if this was a bad mushroom or one of the harmless ones and thankfully it was just one of the “it’s fine to eat, if a little bit gross” kind. That has not stopped her from constantly seeking out mushrooms to eat. I’ve stopped her every time but she finds the tiniest, weirdest little mushrooms. Soon as she stops and starts nosing around, it’s not that she needs to drop a load or spray the lawn — she’s trying to eat potentially poisonous mushrooms. Like a dummy. I’m surprised I haven’t found her trying to eat like, toxic blowfish or something.
Dogs are very sweet. And very stupid.
* * *
I don’t know why dogs need to find the perfect place to poop. Do they get a prize if they find the proper geocoordinates? Are they fertilizing ley lines? If they poop in the wrong sector, does Voldemort win?
* * *
We don’t know what kind of dog she is. Or how big she’ll get. Or where she really even comes from. But she’s ours, now. Part of the family. Even if she almost killed our other dog and daily tries to kill herself with toxic mushrooms. Welcome home, pup. Stop and smell the flowers.
Just don’t eat those goddamn mushrooms.
And don’t mind if that other dog bites you in the face a couple more times.