Hawk's Schedule

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July 27, 2015

Itchy and Scratchy Show

Sorry for the drought of blog postings.  This has been a very difficult period for us.  Hawk is a very strong-willed puppy.  It makes sense that he was the largest puppy in his litter, he got his way likely by being rather pushy with his littermates and that makes him more difficult to deal with people.  On top of that, he was always doing a lot of scratching.  Because the numerous times we looked for a rash or even bugs or fleas, nothing was evident, we thought perhaps it was his way of showing he was uncomfortable with a situation (like a comforting sign that dogs do, akin to a yawn or lip licking).  However, he has been extremely difficult to house train and kept waking up all through the night, and we took him into our vet for a check up, the same day a visible rash showed up on the insides of his back legs.  The testing showed no evidence of UTI, no fleas or other parasites, no mange, etc.  

He was put on antibiotics, because he kept scratching open some of the rash, and Benadryl. I do not think either medication did him any good.  The scratching continued, and the rash would show up in different areas, sometimes a stripe down the middle of his belly, sometimes his belly and under his front legs and it would also change how it looked, sometimes a light pink, sometimes a bright pink.  Hawk discovered that if he laid down in the grass and army-crawled across the lawn, this was just about the perfect way to itch the whole rashy area all at once!  We went back to the vet and received a stronger antihistamine called hydroxyzine.  Still no effect on the scratching, and now he had rash appearing in his ears, always areas where he had very little hair.

About this time, we decided to change his food, which needs to be tapered down and gradually work in the new food to his diet.  Doing this too quickly will often lead to stomach issues, vomiting and diarrhea, something we certainly did not want to add to his list of problems.  We were also given some anti-fungal and antibacterial shampoo and some coconut oil to add to his food to help with the itching.  Another half week, and nothing seemed to make any difference, and we were at the end of our ropes, and I am sure Hawk was nearly out of his mind since he was experiencing all this itching and uncomfortable feeling constantly.  Little wonder, it affected his personality and behavior as well.

Back to the vet, and I reluctantly took a prescription for steroids.  I knew this would cause him to be extra thirsty and drink even more water than he already does, thus needing to potty even more often and I thought house training would be back to square one, and it might also change his personality for the worse.  However, if there was a slightest chance it would make him more comfortable, I was willing to try it.  Within 24 hours of starting it, we saw a marked improvement.  Hallelujah!!  The rash was gone, the itching was gone, and he actually seemed more compliant with us and eager to learn.  He also became more cuddly, something he had never done in the weeks prior to this.  We assume his skin was so uncomfortable that he did not enjoy being touched, but now you can hold him and rub his belly and he often cuddles right up to us.  He is now big enough that he can jump right up on the couch with us, and now we have to work on showing him it is only when he is invited that he can come up (but we'll get to that after we make up for some of the cuddling we missed in those early weeks!).  He is also doing so much better with noises.  He no longer tucks his tail and runs, throwing himself against the front door when a car goes by our house.  He does not like to hear big dogs barking, but he will sensitize to that, too. 

He still wakes up at 3 AM, but my theory is that that has become more of a habit for him.  He thinks 3 AM is when he is supposed to wake up for the day.  He is doing soooo much better at letting us know when he has to go outside to potty.  He will run to the front door (he does not vocalize, so the success is limited to us being hyper-aware of where he is at all times so that we catch this behavior and reward it) and potty the minute he gets to the yard.  Do I expect there to be mistakes still, either on his part or our part?  Of course, he is still just a baby after all, but I think (as I knock on wood and hold onto my St Francis medal) there may be light at the end of the tunnel.  He will always be strong willed, but it is up to us to figure out how to train him and use that as an advantage.   I am feeling more hopeful than I was a week ago, that's as good as it gets for right now.

July 6, 2015

Family Reunion

Hawk had a great time at the family reunion.  It was held in Cuba City, at my uncle and aunt's farm where my mom was raised and where she met my dad whose family had a farm next door.  We got to visit with our cousins who we spent so much time with as kids because there were only my mom and her brother in the family (sadly, they had 1 other brother who died at age 3 of pneumonia); my cousin Jane made my wedding veil.  Five of our 7 siblings were there.  Unfortunately, very few of my parents' grandchildren and great grandchildren were there, but we had fun with the ones who did come and we were happy they were there.

Our nephew Craig and his wife Jen have a set of adorable 2-year-old twins who thought Hawk was about the most horrible little creature they could imagine.  They would not let their daddy put them down for a long while after Hawk arrived.  The youngest member of our family, Celia, who is a 5 month old baby, was just the opposite, she loved Hawk's kisses, and interestingly, you could see him be extra gentle with his teeth and Celia's tiny fingers.  There is hope for him yet!  Hawk, however, was much more interested in my aunt's stray cat who has made his home on her porch.  Living in the country, I remember we would very often have stray cats and dogs walk into our yard (or perhaps dropped off nearby by people who no longer wanted them, sadly).  This cat looks to be very happy at my aunt's home.  I believe it was the first cat Hawk ever met, and he learned they do not particularly like to play and they do like to hiss and swat curious puppies across their nose.  Hawk kept his distance after one swat from the cat, but could not stay completely away.  This new thing he discovered was just too enticing.  The cat showed nothing but disdain and disgust for this overzealous beast who kept running away with his water bowl and dumping it all over himself.  You could almost see him sneer "stupid puppy!"

Hawk was loving discovering new things at the farm.  There were some delectable things called cow pies that he just had to sample. The kids were blowing bubbles, which he had already experienced before, but they were still fun to chase.  He met a bunch of new family members and put on his most innocent and sweet demeanor.

Then we took the kids down to visit the cattle who were up by the farm fence.  Hawk got a look at them and they got a look at him, and both species were scattering away.  However, cattle are ever so curious, and they kept inching closer to this crazy black blob who was doing his best to get out a big dog bark, but all that came was his puppy squeaks.  This only served to make the cattle more curious, and soon they were peering down at him through the fence, both the cattle and Hawk keeping just enough distance to feel safe.  Hawk finally decided, after many treats when he was calm, they were not so bad and sat quietly up by the fence just watching.  He is really observant like that.  When we walked away, Hawk did so with his tail down and kept peering over his shoulder to make sure those huge things were not coming over the fence with us.  Maybe they were nice while we were there with him, but he was still not completely convinced he was safe.

He also heard lots of sirens as there was a structure fire just down the road from my aunt and uncle's place.  He really could have cared less though.  Being 4th of July weekend, we also heard lots of firecrackers and fireworks in our neighborhood, and I guess the first encounter paid off--I sat and fed him treats every time one went off to end our Oregon Summerfest carnival.  Since then, he has not really cared about all those loud noises from the fireworks.

By the time we were on the way home, Hawk was again fast asleep in the car.  He got just enough sleep to be ready for playtime when we got home.  I think Monte enjoyed his day of rest at home while we were away.  

July 4, 2015


We were invited to our friends' house for an impromptu lunch on Saturday, so we went over with Hawk. I think my friend Marty might have unfriended me if I did not bring Hawk along.  They have 3 adult dogs of their own (1 of which was our first guide dog dropout, Buddy) and 2 cats, along the cats make themselves very scarce when unfamiliar dogs and people are visiting.

To Hawk's great pleasure, they had a pool all freshly filled and it was a hot day.  Their pool is bigger than a kiddie pool, so Hawk made several trips around it and watched the big dogs climb in and out before he attempted it.  Then, he did his signature move of one big leap, and in he went.  He was just tall enough to touch bottom, but a week ago he probably could have swam in it without a problem.  He got the bigger, older dogs to play with him for short spurts.  By the time we sat down for lunch, he was completely tuckered out, much to the other dogs' delight.

Thank you Marty and John for a great lunch and great company! 

July 3, 2015


We decided that Hawk really needed some other puppies his age to play with.  He meets adult dogs all the time and it takes him a while to warm up to these guys who hover so far above his head.  He is a rough player, but the big guys he plays with take a lot, so it was important for him to be around some other little ones to help him with his bite inhibition by using more effective body language; he could care less when we "yipe," and he might actually bite us harder when we do this!  

Because I work at The Dog Den doggy daycare and training center, there are puppies to play with every day, and a team of great playgroup leaders who supervise their every move, so I registered Hawk for his first daycare experience.  He met a puppy named Sully on the way in, and they became BFFs.  I only left him there a short time, but I heard the reports from my coworkers that he VERY much enjoyed the kiddie pool outside and made a leap right into it.  They said he likes to bounce toward other puppies when he is playing, and apparently he did demonstrate his Sit skill and recalling to his name, although he did do some impolite behavior of trying to hump his friends.  Dogs have such odd body language sometimes!  He tried that move once on Monte at home, and Monte firmly let him know that was not going to happen a second time, and it was a lesson that stuck with Hawk.  He does not generalize very well though.  He seemed pretty active when I picked him up, but as soon as he hit the car, he was out like a light.  We had a very quiet afternoon as his sleepiness persisted.  God bless The Dog Den!

He starts his first official group class in a couple weeks, and we are keeping all fingers and toes crossed that he is understanding the principles of potty training by then.  He is proving to be a real challenge on this concept.  He is going in for a checkup with our vet and it will include a urinalysis to make sure we are not battling a UTI--although at least we could deal with that.

July 1, 2015

Hawk to the Rescue

We joined the Custom Canines group for a training session at East Towne Mall in Madison last evening.  It was Hawk's first group training experience.  All the other service dogs in training are older than Hawk.  He is the only puppy, so his entrance prompted all of the dogs to break their downs, and aside from his nap while Keelin was talking (I am sure she did not take this personally), his job was to be a distraction, although he tried his best to keep focus on me and was able to practice his downs and walking on leash; he already knows Sit.  Since he is a puppy and on a potty training routine, that meant as soon as he woke up and when he started sniffing around, it was time for a trip outside.

There are so many distractions in a new setting, but especially so around the mall.  While we were out trying to convince Hawk to potty, there seemed to be an argument heating up between a young man and a woman, which escalated when another man pulled up in a car and the young man got in. He was demanding the woman get in his car at that point and the only thing she was saying was "I want my phone back, please give me my phone," and both men were literally yelling at her to just get in the car with much more colorful language.  No one else around even blinked an eye at this interaction.  I remained where I was with Hawk and made no secret that I was watching the whole thing, seemingly completely unnoticed by the men even though we were right next to the sidewalk where the car was.  At this point I asked the woman if she was alright and if there was someone she wanted us to call (as in the police).  Her only reply to me was that she was "escaping".  At this point, a phone came flying out of the car onto the sidewalk and when the woman went to get it, the men drove off as she headed back into the mall.  As sensitive as Hawk is to loud noises, he was not the least phazed by this whole encounter.  On our way back in, I said to the woman that it was incredibly brave of her not to get into that car, and she rolled her eyes.  Not quite sure how to take that, but at that point I felt like we had done the right thing and were prepared to call the police if things went any further, and whether she was appreciative or not really did not matter.

The other dogs practiced the escalator, which takes some confidence and preparedness on the trainers' part.  All dogs seemed to do well with this.  Hawk will not even attempt this before he is 6 months old and we prefer to have booties so the dog's toes and nails are not quite so vulnerable to the mechanism of the moving stairs. Hawk's whole reason for attending training was to be exposed to another environment, be around other dogs calmly and meet some new people.  We think he did very well.

Like all the puppies before him, we just need to determine the best way to train him and what will work and what will not.  He is still determined to test us, but I do see him allowing some cuddling and affection more than initially, which means he is trusting us more.  So, we are progressing in some areas and kind of plateauing in others.  We just count the days until he turns 12 weeks old because it seems between 12-16 weeks, they become little sponges ready to soak up all new things.  He will turn 12 weeks this Saturday.  Yippeee!