17 August 2010

Our little Oliver Twist

We have a puppy. We call him Oliver both because he was an orphan when he came into our lives and because he is a ruddy little troublemaker sometimes. I had always intended to get a dog after I graduated from college. I planned to rescue a shelter dog, since they are so plentiful, but fate had different plans. My grandfather was walking to his truck one day when he heard a terrible racket across the street. He saw a little puppy all alone in the cold. Being the pushover he is, my grandfather brought the puppy inside and inquired whether any of the neighbors knew where this puppy had come from. Returning home empty handed, my grandfather decided to let the puppy stay with him. After hearing this, I asked my grandfather if he could take care of the puppy until I was able to take him. Oliver did not get to stay inside too long though, because my grandfather did not like cleaning up after him. Oliver then went to live on the farm (literally, not figuratively). A few months before he came to live with me, he was allowed to come back into town, where my mom began working with him on housebreaking and basic training. Oliver now resides with my husband and I in our little home. It is a lot of fun having him around.

We think Oliver was born in late February, making him about 6 months old now. He's some sort of terrier mix, possibly predominately Cairn Terrier. He was a pretty goofy-adorable pup, but now his hair is less frizzy and his ears are less floppy. He's still cute, but not as silly looking. Overall, Oliver is a very good pup, but because of his terrier genes, he can be a little wild sometimes. He is especially rambunctious in the morning, when I am least interested in being as alert as he is.

I've been reading a lot about dog training. I am very interested in Cesar's Way. Cesar Millan, the Dog Whisperer, takes a very pragmatic approach to dog, or rather, people training. Cesar's Way is centered around understanding and using the dog's natural instincts and pack tendencies to the advantage of the trainer. It focuses on establishing oneself as the calm and assertive pack leader. It sounds very easy on the surface, but it's sometimes hard to implement when the dog is just so darn cute! Oliver and I are working on controlling his desire to jump all over the place and calming down his manic pulling while we walk. I'm also trying to expose him to as many different situations as possible. He's made two doggie friends, and has taken an interesting trip to Petco. He's a big chicken when it comes to meeting new people or dogs, so I want to continue to expose him to lots of new things so that he's not so unpleasant to guests.

I'm going to try to take some better pictures of Oliver, but despite his cuteness, he's actually a really terrible model. He's quite energetic, and since he is small, I have to get down on the floor to take any good shots. That's a mistake though, because once he sees me, he just wants to play or lick the camera. Perhaps I'll just have to tire him out first.

One last thought: If you ever have a dog, especially a puppy, get a Kong (the little red toy above). They're a little pricey as far as dog toys go, but they are completely worth it. This thing occupies Oliver for hours. It's especially great to give him when he's feeling bitey. I just put some peanut butter inside and stick it in his mouth and it distracts him from biting my fingers. It's a win-win situation.

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