Wednesday, June 27, 2012

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Puppy Sitting Jam

We just got back from vacation and while we were gone, Jam stayed with two very kind puppy sitters.  The first was a family with three children who had a former breeder named Stuart.  I had prepared a letter with descriptions of all of Jam's quirks and suggestions for how to settle him into their house.  

I'm coming to realize that perhaps I am not the most calm person, but I am trying to be a calm person. So, when I got a call as I was on my way to the house saying that there were painters outside and that the meet and greet with Stuart would have to take place inside, rather than outside as we had planned, no problem.  I was calm.  

I got to Dana's house and car outed Jam.  We walked up to the door and immediately the deep barks of Stuart greeted us.  A little flutter started near the region of my heart.  "Shhhhhh.  Calm yourself. He will be fine."

Dana opened the door and beckoned us in.  Stuart waited and Jam was eager to get to KNOW him, if you get my drift.  (Jam hasn't been fixed, Stuart is a former breeder, this situation is fraught with anthropomorphic emotional problems!) We started each dog on a loose leash on the meet and greet.  Jam and Stuart started to circle and sniff, there was some jumping, no hackles, but when Jam decided hump, Stuart decided No was NO.  But, there was still tail wagging.  

Inside my head, I thought, "This is not working.  I need a new pet sitter.  We leave tomorrow.  Holy Crap."  Outside my head I was silent and watching because Dana, the mother of three, was calmly telling her children to let the dogs get to know each other and not bother them.  She was calmly telling me that Jam was lovely and everything would be great and asking me questions about feeding.

Jam was super interested in humping Stuart, getting tossed off and barked at in no uncertain terms, dancing away and, I swear to God, laughing, before coming back to try for another hump.  Stuart, for his part, as a former breeder, was not interested in being humped and was quite emphatic in his barked NO.

Stuart, a bit of a pudgy yellow lab is lying down on the left with Jam lying down on the right.  Both are looking up at the camera.
Dana ended up sending Stuart out for a walk so that Jam could get to know the house and the two remaining kids.  I was looking at her and thinking inside my head, "I don't think Stuart is ever going to like Jam." But Dana, the zen master, walked me to the door and assured me that Jam and Stuart would become fast friends.  As you can see from the photo above, the next day, they had reached detente and Jam had realized that he did not have a humping partner.

A couple of days later, I got this photo of them holding paws while napping.

Jammy taking a nap on the floor with his legs stretched out and touching his front paws with Stuart's back paws while Stuart is napping.
Take it from the calm mother of three, a little bluster soon goes away.  I had also told her about Jam's quality of hard bonding.  He picks one person and that is his person to follow, shadow and look for at all times.  He picked the zen master, Dana.

Jam lying on the kitchen floor with his head between Dana's feet.
Another good thing about Dana's house was that it also had a cat: Hoot.  Jam had visited cats, but had never lived with a cat.  For about a week, he learned that "leave it" meant leave the cat alone and he obeyed that without fail.  Dana said he was the best puppy they have had in regards to dealing with Hoot.
Hoot the cat is at far left on the table top.  Jam is at far right turning to look at the camera.
Jam also spent time at black lab puppy Liz's house with puppy raiser's Susan and Brian in our North Group.  the pass off happened on Wed. and here is a hot of Jam's bootie under the table at The Thirsty Marlin.

Susan and Brian's house presented a challenge of a different sort.  Instead of children, they have smaller dogs (two, a male and female) and another Southeastern Guide Dog puppy named Liz (about five months old and a female black lab).  Jam needed to control himself and he was only moderately successful at this.  Perhaps having the larger and more commanding Stuart at the last house and now having the smaller and much less commanding male toy dog at Liz's house put Jam in the frame of mind that somehow he was the king of this house.  When he arrived, he walked around, found a community dog pillow and decided that as an intact male he needed to state his authority. He marked it.  Elapsed time from door to pillow: 3 minutes.

Fortunately, the pillow was washable.  Now, marking was one of things that I had highlighted as something we were working on with Jam and they would need to watch out for.  However, Jam had, until this moment, never marked in the house.  But this is one of those moments when you are listening to the story and as she gets to the part where Jam walks up to the pillow, in your head you go, "oh no, oh no, don't do it, don't do it." We are so sorry, Susan!

He didn't mark again, thank goodness.

Jam relaxing on Susan's lovely wood floor, which he then scratched up in his eagerness to greet me.
But he left his mark in other ways, ways like nail marks on the floor and poor Liz having to be on tie down more than usual because she and Jam were CAPTAIN CRAZYPANTS times two.  Liz would egg him on and I think having established himself as the king, it was a status he needed to uphold.


Susan and Brian were lovely though and said none of this. These descriptions are just me reading between the lines.

I remember a time when Fred and I were waiting for our first puppy and we puppysat for Tim or as we called him, Tim the Destroyer (name has been changed to protect the innocent!). Tim was a lovely black lab and was about two months from going back in for training.  At the time, we were new and we really didn't get any instructions about Tim other then feeding and general info.  Nothing special to watch for, nothing to work on.  So, we were a little unprepared for the insane puppy that appeared.

Ah Tim.  I still remember that you would NOT stay out of my yarn room.  It was like doggie crack, calling your name.  "Tim, come and eat me! Unroll me! Take me out of the bins and toss me around!"  Tim could never be let off leash or off tie down.  He would run immediately to the yarn room and wreak havoc. I still get a little shaky over the memories.

But Tim was sweet.  He had a squishy, soft  muzzle. He loved to cuddle.  He walked well and he was a good eater with Willow and treated her well too.  So, we were not scared away from puppy raising.  Rather we learned that puppies, like children may not behave well when not around their parents.  And try as we might to give a long list of instructions to warn of every possible scenario, we might miss one or two.  What may save us though is our puppy's innate cuteness and sweet nature.

And the kind, forgiving nature of puppy raisers.  For that we are ever grateful! Thank you to Dana's family and to Susan and Brian for taking such good care of our rowdy little Jam.  It was comforting to know he was safe and well cared for.

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