TV Day

Today I am taking care of a very sick puppy.  Some kind of stomach bug.  You really don’t want any more details than that, I promise.

Because of poor sick puppy, as well as a busy week at work coming up with no time for a TV day during the week, I’m making today my “TV day” for next week.  (As you may remember, I gave up TV for 40 days of Lent, choosing one day per week as my “TV day.”)  When I sit still, Pal lays down.  When I get up, he gets up and follows me.  When I am not here, or when I go into my bedroom and shut the door, he doesn’t drink much water or eat anything, and he doesn’t rest very well when I shut him out of my room at night, which I have been doing while he is sick.  He desperately needs to rest and drink water, and watching some movies will make me more able to sit still today, and stay in the same room as Pal without going too stir-crazy.  Result=I sit still, happily engrossed in movies I enjoy, and Pal will rest and drink water.  I hope.  So far, so good, anyway.

So, I thought it was about time to talk about how this is going.  In the beginning, I was really enjoying the peaceful feelings brought about by weeknights without TV.  For the past two weeks or so, I have occasionally experienced some serious temptation to break my goal.  The novelty of the peaceful TV-free zone has worn off, and my temptation moments have clarified why I like watching TV, and that clarity has allowed me to evaluate for what reasons I should enjoy watching TV, and for what reasons I should find a better solution to the desire.

There are two different reasons that generally draw me to watch TV.  The first reason is that I’m interested in the story.  I like the movie, or I like the TV show, and I want to know what happens.  Or I’m inspired by the characters in some way.  It could be something I’ve never seen before, or it could be watching something again.  I’m watching because of the story and the characters.  When I watch TV or movies with people, this is the only way I watch.  Honestly, it’s the strangest thing, but if other people are in the room and I’ve lost interest in the story, I will start talking, find something to do with my hands like knitting, get my phone and dink around on Facebook, get up and go do the dishes, something.  I don’t “zone out” when I’m watching TV or movies with other people.

Which brings me to the second reason that draws me to the TV.  Zoning out.  Escape.  “Calgon, take me away.”  If only a bubble bath had this power.  🙂  I’m tired, or overwhelmed, or stressed, or hurting.  Or sick.  Whatever I’m feeling, I don’t want to feel it right now.  Or, whatever I have to do, I don’t want to do it.  I just want time to pass quickly and painlessly.  I want to escape being present in my life for awhile.  When other people are around, I never desire to escape in this way, probably because even if I am overwhelmed/sad/stressed, I am a little bit distracted from those feelings by the others.  When I’m home alone, I have nothing to distract me from myself.  When I watch episode after episode of something I’m not interested in, when I stay up too late watching TV, when I am “in the mood to watch TV” in general, as opposed to desiring to watch a particular movie or show, I’m watching TV as an escape.

And let me tell you, I don’t think there is anything wrong with that when I am sick.  When you’re seriously sick you should be either sleeping or resting comfortably, and laying miserably in silence with nothing to pay attention to except your symptoms is NOT resting comfortably.  When you’re seriously sick, you should do whatever you can to make yourself feel better.  Many a stomach virus, as well as a few bouts of influenza, have been endured by episodes of Friends, Dharma & Greg, and Disney channel sitcoms!  🙂

But, I am in the habit of watching TV or movies simply to zone out from feeling bored or overwhelmed.  Two ends of the spectrum of life that both need to be dealt with.  During this TV fast, I have, perhaps for the first time, experienced being fully present in moments of solitude, both when everything is great and when it’s not so great.  And I have experienced something which I cognitively knew already:  Nothing good comes from escaping those feelings of when things aren’t going so well.  They come back again.  However, if you sit with those feelings, ride their course, feel their rise and fall…like a fire, they will burn out.

Also, just as I had hoped, I have experienced what happens when I run to God instead of to an escape.  He doesn’t take the feelings away.  He gives me a new strength to endure them, a new hope for their temporary presence, and a new vision for the purpose of the experience, unknown though it may be.

Right now, I am speaking of the day-to-day trials that come with life in general.  When I don’t get enough sleep.  When several unexpected problems arise at work.  When it feels that there is too much to do and too little time.  When the laundry is piling up.  When the budget is tight.  When the schedule is tight.

When the dog is sick.  🙂

But life being what it is, I know more serious trials will come.  And if, when those times come, I use them as an excuse to escape into something, nothing good will come of them.  If I pick them up and run to God, endure them, ride them out, let them fulfill their unknown purpose in my life, EVERYTHING good will come of them.

DPP 2010 – December 16

The fluffball needs a haircut!

Vampires and the Poof-Dog

twilight_book_cover

I never thought I’d fall in love with a vampire story!  There is a point in a lot of books where the story becomes engrossing, where I reach the point that I can’t put the book down.  I read the first book in about 24 hours, so I think that was page 1.  🙂  I’m now 252 pages into the second book, and it took a little longer for this portion of the story to engross me.  In case you were wondering, it happened on page 237.  🙂

(Please, no comments that will spoil any part of the story for me!!!)

The first book, though, could have stood alone as a story in itself.  There was something so intriguing, even addictive, about this love story.  He thirsts for her blood more so than any other human’s, and yet, he loves her more than anyone.  He wants to kiss her, but if he kisses her, he’ll want to bite.  She wants to be with him so much that she’s willing to risk her life, knowing that he wants her blood.  Don’t tell me that doesn’t give you chills!

Of three things I was absolutely positive.   First, Edward was a vampire.  Second, there was a part of him, and I didn’t know how dominant that part might be, that thirsted for my blood.  Third, I was unconditionally and irrevocably in love with him.

 

DSCN0582

In other news, Pal got his first professional grooming today!  It was expensive, but worth it.  There is no dog hair floating around my house.  I didn’t spend two hours with Pal and the scissors, trying to cut his hair without cutting his skin.  They even brushed his teeth and cut his toenails, two things I don’t mind doing, but they probably do a better job!  His head looks normal, but his body looks skinny and poofy, if that makes sense.  🙂  All the same, I’m sure I’ll be doing this on a regular basis from now on.

More Tidbits About Housetraining

If you’re reading this, then I would like to thank you for allowing me to vent about my self-inflicted challenges!  🙂

 

Some things I’ve been reading about:

* A dog is either housebroken or he isn’t.  He is not “almost housebroken.”  If he’s “almost,” he’s not.

* Crate trained is not the same as house trained.  But, crate training can be used to lead to house training.

* There is definitely two schools of thought regarding crate training.  Some say that crating is cruel, and should be used as little as possible.  Others say that crating is responsible and effective, and can be used as much as necessary.

 

Based on what I’ve read, I have learned:

* Pal is most definitely crate trained, but not house trained.

* I do not think crate training is cruel.  I think it probably depends on the dog, but I know Pal likes his crate.  He acts much more secure in his crate when we’re in the car.  If he’s just sitting in the backseat, he shakes and whines for the entire trip.  If he’s in his crate, he calms down for the most part.  In the apartment, when I tell him to go to bed, he runs right in his crate.  Sometimes, I find him sitting by his crate waiting for me in the morning!

* However, I found one comparison in several different articles.  “Crate training is not cruel.  Would you call it cruel to keep a child in a playpen?”  Well, yes, I would.  I hope I don’t ignite any fires with this statement, but it is my opinion that a baby needs to scoot and crawl and explore, and a toddler needs to toddle and explore.  You don’t learn anything by staying in a 4×4 square all day long.  I think the adult should baby-proof the home rather than confining the child.  I think the playpen should be used sparingly, if ever, for example, when the parent and child are outside and the parent is working in the garden, or when the family is visiting a non-baby-proofed home.  If those two issues, crates and playpens, go together, then the crate should be used sparingly, if at all.

However, I need to remind myself that dogs are not people!  It would be cruel to stop feeding Pal, or to kick him, or to leave him alone for a few days.  (However, leaving a cat alone for a few days is not cruel…it just depends on what the pet needs!  Dogs need to go outside to go to the bathroom, cats don’t.)  Someday, I would like to be able to leave Pal outside of the crate unsupervised, but I don’t think it’s cruel to use the crate to reach that end.

* Basically, I have been inconsistent.  And I gave up too soon.  When I finally got Pal crate-trained, I assumed he was also house trained, and I got lazy.  The bottom line is, if I can’t trust the dog unsupervised, he must be in the crate.  I think for now I will start again with the crate training, and be super-consistent for a few weeks.  Then, I will start phasing out the crate.

* I need to tell myself the same thing I’ve told my students’ parents who ask for advice about discipline.  (Happens more than you might think…)  I tell them, you have to be confident and make it clear who is the boss!  You are the adult, and they are the kid.  Don’t be afraid of misbehavior, because you are the one who gets to say what behavior is misbehavior.  If you do everything in your power to “make him happy” so he won’t tantrum, you are making him the boss.

So…I have to be confident and make it clear who is the boss!  I am the person, he is the dog.  I get to say when and what he eats, where he sleeps, where he walks when we are walking, and where he pees!  I’ve always said, I don’t care if he can do tricks or where he sleeps, I just want one thing.  Don’t pee in my house!  But it seems that with Pal, if he is the boss of all those other things, he doesn’t recognize my authority about where to pee.  With this particular dog, and his particular personality, I need to make sure I’m the boss, of everything.  If I want him to sleep in my bed, that’s fine, but I need to make sure he knows that he’s sleeping there because that’s where I say he sleeps.

 

So let me tell you about my plan!  (Or, the beginning of one…)

* Pal will not be unsupervised on the carpet until I can trust him.  For a few weeks, he will be in his crate when I am sleeping or gone.  Then, he will slowly get more privileges. Maybe he will get to be in the kitchen while I’m gone, for example.  He tends to have accidents while I’m sleeping, not while I’m gone, so I think the nighttime freedom might be the last to come.

* Pal will get more walks.  On a typical day, he will get walked at approximately five times: when I wake up, before I leave, when I get home, mid-evening, and before I go to bed.

* Pal will get to see, all day long, that I am the boss.  He will walk beside or behind me outside, he will sit and wait for a command to eat, etc. 

This sounds like a lot of work, and it is, but the status quo isn’t working.  I need to keep in mind the long-term goal: a dog who can be trusted just fine all day and night.  Perseverance!!!

Turns out, it was me.

Yes, I was the one that was stupid.  Of course, this is exactly what I expected.  I knew there had to be something I was doing wrong, because my dog is very sweet!  He would never pee on my floor, right?  😛

According to my research this evening, there seem to be two main issues at work here.  One, who is the pack leader?  Two, what does Pal’s little doggy body want to do, instinctively?

I’ve noticed a strange thing the last few days.  Since I’ve not allowed Pal to sleep in my bed, I’ve noticed that when we go for a walk, he walks just about a step behind me, instead of leading the way in front of me.  I didn’t connect the two things until I read some of the articles tonight, but it all makes sense.  If I am the leader, I get to walk in the front.  And according to dog culture, if I am the leader in charge of walking and sleeping arrangements, I need to be the leader for everything.  So, when I asserted my role as leader for sleeping arrangements, Pal recognized me as the leader for walking as well. 

And how does this relate to housetraining?  Because if I am the leader, I get to say where it is okay to go to the bathroom!

After reading all these articles, I took Pal for a little walk, and I made sure that I went out the door first, and that I led the way while we were walking.  I also crouched down and gave him a little bit of petting and praise after he went.  So, he knows that I am in charge, and he knows that I am happy when he pees on the grass.

Now, Pal’s little dog instincts tell him to release some energy in the morning and the evening, before he stays home for the day, and before he goes to sleep.  Therefore, I was right on with the walking.  He needs a walk before I leave in the morning and a walk before he goes to bed.  He needs more opportunities to go to the bathroom than I’ve been giving him.

As far as the crate versus no crate…  I still don’t have an answer.  A few articles said that whenever I can’t be supervising the untrained dog, he must be in his crate, whether I’m away or I’m sleeping.  Another article said that if my dog must be unsupervised for both nighttime and work hours, I should use the crate at night and leave him out during the day.  That was a first for me, and it’s backwards from what I’ve been doing.  I think the bottom line is, until I can trust him not to pee on my floor, he must either be supervised or in the crate.  If I am walking him sufficiently, being in the crate shouldn’t be a big deal, since Pal likes it, and he sleeps 18 hours a day anyway!

Yes, this would be so much easier if I could just let him out the back door five or six times a day, or if I was home all day long most of the time.  Maybe at some point in my life one or both of those things will be true.  But no one said this would be easy.  Basically, that life I lived before Pal, where I lived every moment for myself, for my immediate gratification, is over!  🙂  And that’s not a bad thing!  Being responsible for Pal has definitely been a journey, and it continues.

My Stupid, Stupid Dog!

When will it end???  It’s been three and a half years!  What am I doing wrong???

I want a dog.  Really.  I even want this dog.  Don’t let my frustration tell you otherwise.

I’m just…jealous.  Jealous of the people who have (seemingly) perfectly housetrained dogs!  I know a dog named Marty who rings the bell at the back door when he wants to go out.  I know a dog named Gracie who has the run of the house when her owners are gone.  I know a dog named Sophie who doesn’t even have a fence!  She just goes out and comes back to the door when she’s done.

So, why does Pal not have a clear communication about when he needs to go out?  Why has he had at least one accident a day for the last three weeks or so?  What did I do wrong when I was training him?  Is there anything I can do now, to start over, or train him from here?

It’s time for some research.  It’s time to think about what dogs need, and what Pal needs with his particular personality.  I’m slipping into teacher mode…If the student fails, it is the teacher’s bad teaching, right?  🙂

When I first got Pal, I read many articles online about how to housetrain a puppy.  But now, I need to know how to housetrain an adult dog.

The first thing that comes to mind is from the show It’s Me or the Dog.  Sort of like Supernanny, but for dogs!  Fun show to watch, that’s for sure!  Anyway, the expert lady says that dogs misbehave while the owners are away because they are insecure.  They get worried and stressed, and then they have accidents, chew things, get in the fridge and eat the food (no, seriously!), any sort of naughty behavior.  Pal only has accidents when I am away or when I am asleep.  He never does it when I’m looking, or even when I’m near.  It fits.  Also, dog lady never encourages the owners to crate train.  In fact, I’ve seen her criticize owners for putting dogs in crates while they are away.  I don’t agree, I think that if a dog is going to lay around and sleep all day anyway, what’s the difference between laying on the couch and laying in a crate?  Also, what if the dog feels more secure in the small confined space?  But, I have always envisioned a dog that didn’t need a crate, that I could just leave when I left and he’d be fine.  Like Sophie, Gracie, and Marty!  So if I can use dog lady’s advice to get a dog like that, I’m going to do it.

The second thing I’ve thought of is, I was minimally involved in training Sophie.  And I mean, minimally!  But Sophie stayed with us sometimes when I lived with her owners, Becky and Blake, in college.  One thing I remember is that Becky or Blake would take Sophie out first thing in the morning, and then whichever one of us would leave last would take her out again right before we left for the day.  I haven’t done that with Pal except for the first few weeks.  But if I had to hold it all day from 7:30 until 4:30, I’d want to go to the bathroom a couple of times before 7:30!  Also, I remember a couple of years ago when I visited Blake and Becky, I got the impression that Sophie got a walk around the block every day, maybe even every time they took her out, I’m not sure.  I know with Pal, I routinely take him out, and stand there until he does his thing, and then go back in.  And occasionally we go on a two or three mile walk.  He probably gets the same number of miles, over time.  But maybe little dogs need shorter walks, but every day.

What about sleeping arrangements?  Dog lady advises against letting the dogs sleep in your bedroom, much less in your bed.  Marty and Gracie sleep with the owners, I don’t think Sophie does.  I used to think I didn’t care one way or the other, but the last few days I’ve shut Pal out of my bedroom, and it’s the best sleep I’ve had in a long time!  We all know I prefer not to sleep alone, but it’s different from sleeping with a person.  As you roll and move in the night, a person rolls and moves with you.  Or, you end up away from each other so that you can roll and move separately without bothering each other.  Pal doesn’t do either of those things.  He just lays, still as a rock, right in the middle of where I want to put my feet, completely in the way!  He’s only 15 pounds, you wouldn’t think he could take over so much of the bed.  I love cuddling up with him on the couch, but I could live without him taking over my bed!

The things unique to Pal’s situation, compared to the other dogs I spoke of, are that he can’t just go out in the backyard by himself.  When he goes out, I go out.  Also, I am the only person who lives here, and I have to work of course, so he can’t go out whenever he wants all day long.

Reminder to self…Pal is a great dog!  The housetraining is the only thing I have to complain about!  🙂

Pal’s bed

I’ve been watching a lot of It’s Me or the Dog on Animal Planet.  It’s like Supernanny, for dogs.  I have a nervous dog.  He’s nervous about car riding, he’s nervous about being home alone, he’s nervous about being somewhere new.  He’s happy and friendly, I’ve never seen him get aggressive with anyone.  But when he’s alone, he’s nervous.  The episode that I was most recently watching was about a dog that, among other things, left little “surprises” when he was home alone.  That’s what Pal Does when I don’t put him in the crate when I leave.  It’s fine with me, of course, if I put Pal where he feels safe and secure when I’m gone.  But I wish he could feel safe and secure in the apartment without me.

I got a few ideas from the doggy supernanny about “independence training.”  One of the suggestions was to have the dog sleep somewhere other than in the owner’s bed.  I think that many dogs do just fine sleeping with the owners.  But in the case of a nervous dog, sleeping in his own bed can reassure him that being without me for a little while is okay.  I think I’m going to try it for a few weeks and see what happens.  I don’t know if I’ll shut him out of my room, or just keep commanding him off my bed.  I tried the latter awhile ago.  Night after night, I would tell him to get off my bed as many times as it took, he would settle himself in his bed or on the floor, then about 7 hours later, I would wake up with him cuddling my feet!  🙂  I think I’d better shut him out!  I’m also going to try things like leaving and coming back every day without putting him in his crate, taking him for car rides that just come back home again, etc.  My goal is, by the end of the summer, to have not such a nervous dog.

Previous Older Entries