Alternative title: How to Socialize Your Puppy in One Weekend.
Second alternative (more accurate) title: Sleep is Overrated.
Yikes! Five weeks in and hardly a peep on the blog about the new tribe member, Rhys. Plenty on Facebook though. My friends probably want to kill me. Or do an intervention. The lack of blog posts and the millions of Facebook posts are all due to the fact that Rhys is a huge time suck, but super cute and wonderful. Mostly.
So I’m not going to even try to make up for the lost time on the blog – that would be thousands, upon thousands of words. Instead, I’m going to jump straight to this past weekend.
Over Saint Patrick’s Day weekend, I took YoBaCa and Rhys to the first “away” game of the year. Yup, we traveled for an agility show.
Now wait, I know you’re thinking, “She what??! Traveled with a 12-week old puppy??! (Although you may not have known he is now 12 weeks old, but he is.) “Is she insane???!!”
Apparently even more out of my mind than even I knew.
Rhys already is super fantastic on car rides, so naturally he was fine with the Friday afternoon I-5 crawl south. He was also fine with the pee stop at a rest area in the steady soaking rain, accomplishing all major business like a pro.
Of course I realized he was recharging the entire three hours it took us to get to Longview. Luckily, as a result of the time change the weekend prior, it was still light when we arrived at the hotel.
Wait! The puppy stayed at a hotel??!! Hold on. I’ll get to that part soon.
Checked into the room, which very, very sadly for me was on the second floor as arrived too late to secure a first floor room.
Now, normally I do not care if I’m not on the first floor, but all I could envision was trying to hustle a puppy with a teeny bladder outside first thing in the morning and actually making it outside without any leakage.
However, it was what it was and yet another thing I couldn’t do anything about. Therefore, after umpteen trips out to The Living Room on Wheels and up and down the stairs carrying my own and one “go” bag and the dogs’ various paraphernalia, got settled into the hotel room. But first, had to burn off some of that puppy energy.
So instead of taking the dogs up to the room and feeding them, I took them across the street from the hotel to a local park and made them run around for almost an hour. The three Big Dogs were all about this as it mostly involved Ball and exploring a new place. Rhys was also fine with it as it involved The Big Dogs, exploring and stealing Ball.
After that adventure and before it became pitch dark, grabbed some take-out food for myself and then back to the hotel. Because I’m a generous person with my dogs, I shared my fries and a bit of my sandwich. Rhys thought that was pretty wonderful.
Thinking that after he ate he’d be a bit tired and ready for a nap, I stuck him in the canvas crate I’d brought for just that purpose.
Rhys was all about the novel experience and he was only just starting the party. He gnawed on a bully stick for a little bit, then decided he had to go out. After we came back, he decided the canvas crate was icky and that he wanted to play with his brothers. Except they were ready for bed and were already up on the bed and didn’t appreciate his efforts to try to jump up on the bed with them. Luckily for them, the bed was way too high for him to leap into. He tried to entice Camm into playing, but she decided she also wanted to be up on the bed.
I took Rhys out on a walkabout of the hotel grounds and through the hotel where we met a few admirers, including a very talkative man and a man with his young son. Rhys just soaked it all up.
Meanwhile, we – and when I say we, I mean all of us that were not a 12-week old puppy – just wanted to snuggle on the bed and watch a little TV before going to sleep.
Not Rhys. Rhys thought he should either be outside again or running around the room. He did not appreciate my efforts to corral him in his crate.
Finally, just as I thought I was going to lose it, he settled – unhappily, into the crate. Finally, there was peace and quiet.
Until 2:30 am.
That was when Rhys made it known he was awake and did not want to be in the strange crate.
So, I took him and the other three dogs outside – rotating of course – for potty breaks.
I foolishly thought that was it and we could resume our slumber uninterrupted until the alarm went off at 6:15 am.
Nope. Rhys thought it was time to party.
Since I was worried he’d scratch through the mesh on the crate or break the zipper, I brought him into bed with me.
Rhys thought that was delightful. He has not been in the bed with me since his first two nights with me and since Camm and Youke were also in the bed, he thought it was a perfect opportunity to work on his social skills with both of them.
At this point, Camm and Rhys are best friends. In fact, I now refer to Camm as Big SisterMommyAuntie Camm as she is all those things and more to Rhys. They are tight.
Much to Rhys’s dismay though, he and Youke are still not best buddies. This is not from lack of effort on Rhys’s part.
However, taking advantage of Grumpy BigBrotherUncle Youke while he’s snuggled up to his Human and at his most softest and vulnerable by jumping on his head, then covering him in puppy kisses, followed by draping your wiggly puppy body over Youke’s body is not the way to win friends.
Youke made it known that behavior was not appreciated in the least and pointedly jumped over to the other unoccupied queen bed in the hotel room, joining Brady. Grumpy BigBrotherUncle Brady is wise to Rhys’s friendship solicitations and removes himself immediately. Rhys realized the error of his ways the first time he tried to jump onto Brady’s back when he was laying down and wisely has not attempted it again. This does not stop him though from sneaking puppy kisses at Brady, or alternately, trying to surreptitiously nip at his heels when he’s not looking.
I suspect Rhys is trying to model some of his behavior on Brady. I base this on his close observation, and clear admiration, of some of the things Brady does. However, he is obsessed with getting Youke to adore him. His efforts though are along the lines of the super geeky clumsy sweet kid at school that is smitten with the super cool mean but cute girl and Youke’s reactions are pretty much all mean girl. Still, Rhys is undeterred.
After causing Youke to leave his coveted spot in bed by my side, I decided enough was enough and clutched Rhys close. I’ll tell you that this was in an effort to contain and calm him, but really, I was about to throttle him.
Magically, it worked. Or he realized that his short life was about to remain short. Regardless, Obnoxious Crazed Bitey Puppy turned into Sweet Magical Puppy Breath Puppy.
Turns out, Rhys is a first class snuggler. He cuddled up against my face first, breathing in my breath, even as I breathed in his. Then he placed his head underneath my chin. That move gradually had him moving to place his nose and head up against my neck.Every now and then he’d give me a gentle little lick. Sometimes that was followed by him trying to eat my hair, but most of the time, he was just trying to snuggle in closer. We slept like that until my alarm went off at 6:15.
Like most rock stars that party all night, Rhys was not eager to get up when the alarm went off. Truthfully, neither was I. I turned it off and he re-positioned himself on top of my head – after trying to chew some of my hair first – sighed heavily, and then fell fast asleep again.
We arrived a bit late to the agility trial. Luckily, the show started off a bit late as well, which was good, because Youke was the first dog on the line that day.
In between runs with The Big Dogs, Rhys got to socialize and explore. I was positive he’d be worn out by the end of the day.
I was wrong. So very wrong.
After eating out with friends after the trial ended for the day, I was mentally and physically done. The Big Dogs were also mentally and physically done after a day of trialing, playing Ball and exploring. They ate their dinners when we got back to the hotel room and promptly curled up the sleep.
Rhys was not tired. Rhys thought we should be doing something that did not involve being curled up on the bed with the TV on.
After getting sick of him pestering me and the other dogs and him being unable to settle even with a bully stick in the canvas crate, I took him on a little walkabout. This was great because he got to meet a bunch of kids that were staying on the same floor. All that admiration went to Rhys’s head, because when we came back from his potty break, he made a bee-line for the room where the kids he’d met were staying.
Sadly for him, I took him back to his own boring hotel room.
I’ll spare you all of the details, but suffice it to say that Rhys almost spent the night in The Living Room on Wheels. In fact, had the temperatures not dropped into the lower 40s, he would have.
Rather than killing him, I fell into a state of exhaustion somewhere between actual sleep and daydreaming of an alternate universe where I had not made the decision to get a puppy, much less made the decision to travel and stay in a hotel room with a puppy. While I was in this altered state of reality, Rhys was happily cavorting about the hotel room by himself, doing god knows what, because even Camm was too tired to play with him. I remember wearily hoping he wasn’t destroying the hotel room and pissing and pooping on the rug.
I awoke at about 11-ish when he was attempting to fling himself into the bed with me. I hoped that it was a sign that he was ready to settle down and go to sleep. I was too tired to check the fate of the hotel room and scooped him up. He promptly started batting me with his paws and tried to chew my hair.
Again, I held him tight, but trying not to squeeze the life out of him. Apparently he got the message. He curled up and went to sleep.
Again, the alarm went off at 6:15 am. I needed the time to pack everything up and make the numerous trips up and down stairs and out to The LRoW before heading off for the second and last day of the agility trial. Luckily, I knew the run order was reversed and my dogs would be running last in the first class of the day.
I shut the alarm off. The dogs didn’t even raise their heads. Rhys readjusted his position against my body and heaved a heavy sleepy sigh.
I decided that I didn’t really need anymore Fullhouse Q’s and fell back asleep.
I awoke 90 minutes later and only because the sun was coming in strongly through the seams of the curtains covering the hotel window.
When I stumbled out with the dogs for their morning potty breaks, I dully observed that the hotel parking lot was nearly empty and not a single one of my friends’ cars remained. Naturally, they’d already left for the agility trial down the road.
I’m also pleased to say that Rhys made it outside every single time without incident for all potty breaks. Well, except for one time the first night when he didn’t even make an attempt to tell me he had to go and simply stopped to pee in the middle of running around being all crazy. That’s a rock star move right there.
While I made no attempt to hurry, and even waited at the espresso stand drive-through for what seemed like ages for a humongous cup of coffee (six shots, thank you very much!), still somehow managed to arrive to the trial Sunday morning in time for Brady to run, who was the first of my dogs to run that day.
If possible, Rhys had an even more social day on Sunday than he’d had on Saturday.
Because the weekend is a bit of blur and I can’t recall what exactly Rhys did or who he met on which day, this is a simple summary of all of the weekend social things he accomplished.
Met many small Humans and was petted by many of them.
Met lots of new grown-up Humans – men, women, elderly, in hats, in sunglasses
Lept into the arms of some of the above
Met a ton of adult and teenage dogs, most friendly. He did meet an elderly female border collie that did not suffer foolish little puppies. He was appropriate and polite with all of the older dogs – that included border collies, Australian Shepherds, Doodles, a Briard (whom he loved – the dog was seven months old and Rhys thought he was lots of fun!) , a Staffordshire Bull Terrier, and others I cannot even remember.
He also met an Australian Shepherd puppy that was 11.5 weeks old. A peer. I’m finding though that he is so incredibly confident and sure about himself that he is a bit overwhelming for many of those within his age group. This little female puppy in particular was a bit shy.
Rhys also saw lots of cars driving by, motorcycles and cyclists too, as well as some big trucks. None of those things fazed him.
In fact, the only thing that seems to give him pause are dogs barking. That has become a lot better, but if he doesn’t recognize the bark, he becomes a bit concerned. He also heard what I think were gunshots – or something that sounded sort of like them, and while the sound made him stop and look around, he wasn’t very concerned after the initial few seconds.
In addition to the hotel grounds, Rhys explored a new park, the fairgrounds where the agility trial was held – ingesting some horse droppings as part of that fun process and got to walk around inside where the agility trial was. He also practiced his leash walking, played lots of tug with me (and even with Youke!!), tossed his food dish all over a big field and then ran off with it, but came back at a full run with it when I called him to me, and did a lot of “sits” for me and for the many people he met. We even managed to work in a few “downs.”
Rhys thought the entire weekend was just fabulous. He finally crashed when we got home and slept for nearly nine straight hours.
I apparently have an amazing bold and fun puppy. I fear I am raising a future rock star.