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Sunday, September 9, 2012


My puppy and I made it out early enough for the sunrise light yesterday. Her fur glowed in the red light as the sun barely peeked over the hills to our east. Look at her athletic and graceful build. Also, look how happily relaxed she always is in the forest.

As we hiked up toward a viewpoint, I practiced recalls with Shyla. She's a superstar on the trails. She has learned SO fast. Below, her eyes were on me as she started her sprint to me.
We stopped up higher for some quiet contemplation. Her eyes are stunning.
We were up so early partly because we had a date with a dog trainer. I made sure that we arrived early to give Shyla time to assess the scene before we interacted with anyone. We sat in the grass near the dog training facility. Shyla was tense at first, leaving sweaty paw prints on the pavement. But, with time, she calmed (except when a bike whooshed by - but she rebounded quickly after that surprise).

Then, the trainer finished her puppy socialization class that was before our appointment. I'll spare you every detail but the trainer thought that we should use Shyla's love of other dogs as motivation for her to go into the building. So, she asked the puppy owners to stay a little late while we brought Shyla into the building. It worked better than I could have imagined. We still had some trouble convincing Shyla to walk through the door and into the building but we used treats to get her over the threshold. Then, the puppies, all under 4 months of age, helped Shyla to begin to relax. Shyla even nose-poked the hand of one of the owners. Seeing that made me think that, with a nice slow pace, Shyla will get used to meeting new people.

The trainer, Shyla, and I stayed in the building until the Level 1 class, Shyla's class, arrived. We showed Shyla that there were back rooms where she could go if their arrival was stress-inducing for her. But, the lure of meeting new dogs kept Shyla in the front room as one dog-human pair after another (4 total) walked in! I was SO happy to see that my trainer knew so well how to handle these seemingly mundane situations that can be scary for an inexperienced dog.

During class, Shyla started out sitting in front of me, faced away from me, nervously scanning the scene. But, as the trainer talked, I'd click my clicker and give Shyla a treat every time she glanced back toward me. By the end of class, Shyla was sitting facing me, her back to the class, and making amazing eye contact. I reward eye contact lavishly because it means that my puppy is focused on me - a very good behavior in all sorts of situations.
That moment when Shyla turned around and looked into my eyes during class was magical. I knew, at that instant, that we'd work our way through socialization and training. If Shyla trusts me enough to turn her back on the class and look at me, it means that we are building a bond that will last. I believe that it is one of those moments that I'll never forget - it was the moment that I felt that she was truly my girl.

One last note about Shyla... we are house-training her, and it hasn't been as easy as I expected (it's usually not too hard with little puppies). I micro-manage her to prevent accidents. We are constantly either tethered together, contained in a small space together (e.g., the deck), or she gets freedom for 30 min or so after she does her business outside. We had a 5 day streak of no accidents but I messed up yesterday and let her roam free while we were getting ready to go for a hike. So, I hit myself over the head with a newspaper and cleaned up the accident (have you seen that cartoon? Don't worry - I consider it to be *my* mistake when she has an accident. There's no punishment involved.). A new streak of no accidents started immediately with a clean slate - and we are up to 24 hours now. The togetherness of house-training is good for us.

As for R, he continues to romp as if he feels pretty good. We've decided to get the echocardiogram and find out the truth. We both believe that there is not a tumor on his heart but we need to find out the truth to move forward. Many of you asked about tick-borne diseases that might have damaged his blood cells - my vet had them on her list and then somehow ruled them out. I'll be sure to ask her why in our next conversation. Thanks for the input.
Enjoy the remainder of your Sunday!


  1. Good progress already! Was Shyla kept in an outdoor kennel her whole early life? Some of her issues make me think that may have been the case.

  2. So glad to hear R acts normal and seems to be enjoying his little sister. You are lucky to find such a good trainer that knows how to handle Shyla so well.

    Good luck with R's echo.


  3. Hi KB, Your trainer sounds like such a good match; I hope our trainer is equally a good match for us. As for potty accidents-Hunter has had more than I would have expected but again they were my fault. Now he seems to have the hang of it; I'm still learning not to leave things where he can get them-my latest accident was leaving reading glasses on a table I didn't think he'd venture onto. Oh well, that is what insurance on new glasses is for-I'll get another pair next March.
    I'm amazed at how quickly your girl is learning; shows what a good trainer you are.
    Have a great evening. Keeping paws crossed about R.
    Noreen & Hunter

  4. So glad that training went well Saturday. I love how golden Shyla's eyes are. Much like my Ginko.. Fingers crossed that this echo RULES OUT heart tumor so that all of us can breathe a sigh of relief.

  5. Shyla sounds like she is quickly turning into a super star! We used to put a timer out for our dogs - 15 minutes and we'd take them out. As soon as we came in, we'd set it for another 15 (well, maybe longer for her). As soon as they did something outside, lots of praise! It helped remind us that it was up to us to make sure they stayed good pups!

    We are continuing to say prayers for R.


  6. This all sounds so good. I love that you are keeping us up on the training specifics. There is so much Bert and I are learning.

    My Vickie

  7. I have house-trained all ages of dogs, and I know you'll BOTH get it all figured out!! :-) I just say be persistent and consistent doing the same thing every single time--That's what we do to Todd,and I'm afraid he will still have that occasional accident right by the door--I think his bladder is the size of a dime! :-) But I'm so glad that you had a good first session, and I'm glad that R is feeling great!! Paws crossed for all of you!!

  8. What a great post to finish up a great day 'here' -

    Shyla's progress!
    R - well just R!

    Thank so much for sharing!

  9. Merlin may have hit the nail head first time. What a lovely post, the photos are super, golden glow all round,and the training must have been so good for all. R, continue with all you do, and KB,your love of all your family shows so much in your words and photos. Fond greetings from Jean.

  10. What wonderful progress. Your trainer is one smart cookie...yummmm cooookie. I am sure you two will have many more moments you will never forget.

  11. Great posts about training and the bonding it creates. You seem to have a stellar trainer. Shyla's eyes do shine...and your heart shines about her. I love how consistent and patient you are.

    Rs return of energy and appetite speak to something viral rather than progressive. Paws crossed here for good news.

    Rex, as typed by Momma

  12. Way to go Shyla on the eye contact during training and out on the trails! Pretty girl, you're learning so quickly :)

    Our paws are still crossed for R.

    Lily Belle & Muffin

  13. Good news all around, I think! It looks like Shyla is good for R, and he'll be good for her, too. If she is more confident following a confident dog, he might be good help in that department. I often see Morgan look to Bunny to see how she'll react when we have them out. It's not a lot, but if there's something she's unsure about, there's a quick glance Bunny's way. Anyway, it sounds like there are a lot of people around you who have Shyla's number and will be able to help her move into being a more confident dog!

    Here's hoping R's tests come back with good results, too!

  14. The training sounds fantastic! Shyla is a pretty good model for you, too ;)

    Fingers crossed about R's tests!

  15. Ann....from ...Outer Banks of NC..said...Shyla seems so well relaxed with sorry about her fears but I am so happy she has you....runner ..and the trainers are doing so well with her...She is on the road to a happy life and with R.. as big brother.. so eager and playful...he is just too cute...Great idea....I would have the test done....moving forward is best for all of you....Happy Trails...HUGS....God bless you...

  16. So glad to see R is feeling better. Keeping our paws crossed it is a temporary anomaly.

    Cheers for Shyla; she seems both intelligent and willing. Mama's last female Dane was about 4 when she came and she had had NO socialization. She learned, slowly, and she really leaned on the older male Dane, using him as her security blanket and her conduct guide. Her love of her older brother helped enormously with her training. That and her close friendship with a kitty cousin who lived with us for a year; they used to share a bed and groom each other.

    Jed & Abby

  17. We are sending along blessings to you all for continued success in training and great results back on the test. LOVE the look in Shyla's eyes...she has beautiful eyes!!

  18. Beautiful pics of Shyla! She is definitely model material. I love the pics of her and R whooping it up with fun stuff.


  19. The newspaper thing is such a good idea for the house training. Have you mentioned here about Shyla's history before you had her, I may have missed that.
    Hoping all is well with R and hope he continues to get better.

  20. What a wonderful post to read!
    We know all about puppy accidents, don't we, Molly!
    We love the last picture of you and Shyla playing biteyface, R!

    Love ya lots,
    Mitch and Molly

  21. It sounds like you are bonding beautifully with little Shyla...You are an excellent trainer, KB. I've been slack about training my own sweet hooligan, but your description of the 'eye-contact' command has ignited my interest - I want to try out the clicker with Toby. I agree with you - the 'Look' command and the 'recall' are the most important of all. I hate to admit it, but both these need to be reinforced with my pooch. Thanks for the reminder.
    Holding thumbs that all is well with R.
    Sending lotsaluv
    MM in SA

  22. We are glad R is still enjoying everything and that Shyla is doing so well. Have a really lovely Monday.
    Best wishes Molly

  23. Your baby girl is just amazing. Sounds like she's already making progress in the socialization field. And the housebreaking should be pretty easy too since she's older and understands more.

    I'm so glad you're having that test done for R. Most likely it will show that nothing is wrong but at least you won't be stressing 3 or 4 more weeks waiting for another blood test.


  24. Good job Shyla - we know you can do it!! (and mom snickered at the "hit myself with the newspaper" comment....)

  25. K, you sound SO happy! You and Shyla are becoming a real love match. Glad to hear R is feeling better.

  26. Shyla is in good hands - I have no doubt that you and the trainer will work towards getting her to relax more and more in new situations and around new people and/or dogs. I am going to have to try the clicker training thing with Blueberry. She is so unfocused on me when we are in public.

    Keep us posted on R. Still praying.

  27. She is one smart girl and beautiful. The training sounds like it is coming along just fine. It's pretty funny that she enjoys other dogs so much, cute
    Benny & Lily

  28. Very interesting to read about the training. Yes it must have been magical that eye contact. You will with your love and training make Shyla social.
    Hope they will find out whats wrong with R. Thought of ticks too...
    Trym and Vilja got excellent on the exhibition. Pictures will come, a blog friend visited and took many.

  29. Shyla is clearly on her way to becoming a wonderful dog! And we continue to cross all paws for R.

  30. This post is bringing back a lot of memories! You are lucky to have a good trainer and the class situation to work in...both were huge advantages in the early days/months after I adopted my girl. Your pup looks great, and so does her big brother :)

  31. Shyla is gonna be such an amazingly' trained dog. Dis is gonna be so fun to watch hers grow...and grow withs more confidence each day.

    When my sissy came heres her was 8 and not housebroken but it only took a very short time fur hers to get da hang of it. I knows Shyla will too.


  32. That is great progress

    Stop on by for a visit

  33. Hi KB
    I can tell that Shyla is trusting you more and more. She is amazingly learning so much- and looks to me like she is becoming devoted to you.
    Her eyes are so beautiful- she is beautiful.
    We keep R in our thoughts that he continues to feel good.

  34. Jeepers- my commnet did not print!
    I will try again!
    Shyla is soooo smart and her eyes are beautiful!

  35. Shyla is beautiful...and she is making such wonderful strides! A wonderful addition to your family. She's a luck girl!


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