July 30, 2010
July 22, 2010
This one I call "100% Berner, 1% Border Collie — don't ask ME how that math works!" We have her pedigree, so we KNOW she's a full-blooded Bernese Mountain Dog, but she's got a bit of "farm collie" look to her... One day I took her with me to a garden we share so I could pull some weeds. I put her on the run there and first she did what I would say was a typical Berner thing. She protested by going to the end of the leash and then leaning backwards against the leash so her head was straight up. She went with that approach for a little while and then decided to be collie about it instead—went to the other end of the run and laid down in the shade in some nice cushiony ground cover. And there she stayed while I pulled weeds for an hour. Good girl!
This one just says, "Turn the A/C back on already!"
And this one was just so you could see her soft, sweet expression and that she's not afraid of the camera.
When I walk the dogs—most mornings, if the heat hasn't yet reached extreme levels—I leash them all and we walk to the baseball field at the end of our street where I turn them all loose. The three dogs zip around and get their business done. She's learning to check in for cheese. She's relaxing with Tosca and Jago and enjoys racing around and barking a bit with them, as well as with the pair of labs (one black, one chocolate) who often join us there. Then back on leash for a walk downtown. In addition to exercise, I'm hunting small dogs for her to react to. Today we "passed" one small dog and "failed" a larger dog. But as has been true all along, her reactions are quite manageable and DO show some improvement... If I didn't have the other two dogs in hand as well (and Jago would LOVE to join a fracas), I might be able to practice this a bit better. But still, we walk on and I have the cheese out and she doesn't completely lose her mind... It's definitely the confinement of the leash that contributes to the problem (but of course the leash must be there!). There used to be a lady in this town with a lunatic boxer who would say "it's the leash!" and suggest that we should all just drop our leashes and everything would be fine between our dogs. No thank you, Ma'am! And definitely NOT on Main Street!
At home, she continues to be a wonderful companion, following us everywhere, seeking out everyone for snuggles. I love that I didn't have to explain to her where the right places to "toilet" were—she just recognized that my "middle yard" was the "dog yard," and she dashes right out there. I shall definitely miss her when her forever home is found, but I'm hoping she'll get the opportunity to be part of a pair—three-dog-itis is pushing her into the role of fun police here, not that she minds! And when necessary, I'm comfortable leaving all three shut in our bedroom with the A/C running. They seem to take turns on the big bed.
She's been a terrific dog here, really quite easy. We've boarded dogs that we counted the hours until they went home. NOT this one!
July 19, 2010
From Jim in Vermont:
Weʼve now had Spenser for almost 3 years and heʼs done very well adjusting to us and we him. Heʼs an exceptionally affectionate guy (I think even for a Berner-hard to tell) and fits right in with our other two dogs. We had Ebbie when we got Spenser and last fall my son, who lives at home, got a chocolate Labrador Retriever puppy who he
named Dutchess. At first Spenser didnʼt like Dutchess and she was very attached to
Ebbie who mothered her like it was her own pup. As Dutchess has grown to adulthood she & Spenser have really bonded into best buddies and she teases him incessantly but follows everything he does such as chasing rabbits and squirrels and shooing the pigeons away from our bird feeders.
Spenser & Ebbie are still lovers though. When I have them out together theyʼre
practically inseparable which results in me taking a lot of pictures of the two of them
together. They particularly love wrestling around in the snows of winter and are usually almost white after theyʼve been outside for any length of time.
Spenser is a wonderful addition to our family and we canʼt tell you how happy we are
that we got involved with the BERNER, Inc. rescue program. Spenser is laying on his
bed in my office as I write this. Of course dinner is over and my office is air conditioned and most of the rest of the house isnʼt but I like to think heʼs here because he loves me so much. Actually, when we got him Ebbie was totally devoted to me & I to her but over time Spenserʼs done everything he can to horn in on that relationship and now Iʼd have to say, while Ebbie and I have a really special owner-dog thing heʼs become a real buddy to me. Karen complains that she hoped Spenser would be her dog since she lost Ebbie to me right from the time she was a pup but Spenser decided on me as well. I love them both as we all know anyone can love a Berner. The best dogs Iʼve ever had!!
July 14, 2010
As I put this together, Greta is lying on a dog bed next to my bed letting me rub her with my foot, something Ptolli would have NEVER allowed. Tonight I started teaching her "down." It didn't help that Tosca hovered and offered the correct behavior in the same space, but we made a little headway. Her one trick is "sit" and "paw" so we have to overcome those as being the only possible behaviors to offer.
So, after two weeks, we have narrowed her "issues" down significantly She was supposedly reticent with men. When she first came, I had to escort her to a spot sitting with John and then she tolerated it while not making eye contact. Then we had a LOT of people here, in and out, for the 4th of July festivities and she discovered that all men are not like men she had known and she began going to them for loving. Supposedly she likes children a lot. She pays no attention to ours whatsoever, unless they're eating. Whatever. She tolerates hugs from them and doesn't chase them and that's "good with kids" in my book.
Really, the one thing that one has to remember with Greta is that if she sees a small dog, especially a small dog barking at her, she goes ballistic back. But even this problem is relatively manageable — don't just stand there! WALK ON! And request her attention and praise her with food when you get it. And if possible, once she's stopped barking, let the dogs meet each other. That's not going to be possible often, though. The small dog going ballistic tends to continue going ballistic until out of sight. But once there's any distance, Greta quickly comes back — "you were saying something?"
I take her to the field and turn her loose with the others and she's fine... She streaks around like a border collie — zip, zip, ZOOM! But she doesn't take off and she's fairly responsive and when everyone's "done their thing" and I've cleaned up, I can get everyone back on leash for the balance of the walk.
Someone is going to get a really great little dog. She sits on feet, especially of women. That's just how she says, "hello, love me?" She turns into them and sits on their feet. This makes most everybody fall in love with her immediately. She's very companionable. When I take her to work with me, she goes into the space under my desk for my feet, curls up and lies down. I haven't had a footwarmer since Tycho (who died in 1998). And her BEST feature is how she'll come up and punch you with her nose. The other morning, she was all happy and hoping I'd get out of bed now that clearly everyone was awake thanks to some kid-generated disturbance, so she came over and punched me (gently!) in the ear with her cold, wet nose. It's very funny.
Tosca bullied her a bit when she first came but that hasn't happened for a while and Greta has also found her spine, now that she's been with us for over two weeks, and so doesn't let Tosca push her around too much. They charge through doors together and if they bump as they go through, they don't even bother to grumble at each other about it. Tosca is clearly superior on the status totem pole, but they've settled into their spots and don't have to argue about it. At the field, when they're all loose, the three dogs all get some good running around and are happy even if they don't necessarily play WITH each other.
I took her to meet horses on Monday. That was clearly a first for her. She was a little intimidated by the giant nose bending down to check her out. She occasionally would bark to release some of the stress of the situation. I circled her around and around, slowly getting closer to one horse, and then we were able to stand by the fence and speak to the horse. Greta looked the other way, which is her way of avoiding something that worries her. All-in-all, a good new experience for her. She was happy to be out and about, whatever that might mean. And of course there were women with feet she could sit on who would tell her how wonderful she was.
We've met several people who know people who have recently lost their dog and think Greta would be perfect for those other people, but no one has called me yet — it's not too late to adopt this wonderful little dog!
July 7, 2010
Yesterday morning I walked them all and we encountered a number of other walked dogs as we went along. Most gave us a wide berth — can't imagine why — and Greta was excellent as we went by a number of smallish dogs. None went crazy at us, which helps, but still. She's listening enough to respond when I call her name and offer a piece of cheese as we walk past a dog.
Over the 4th we had something like 13 guests in and out. All of them thought she was the sweetest thing. She even went to male guests for petting — it might've helped that they didn't make frightening overtures to her, and so she had the opportunity to seek them out.
Her eyes have softened and she gazes at people who pet her — will YOU love me? She loves a ride in the car, loves to go for a walk, simply wants to be with people. She's crate trained but hasn't liked where we put her crate here (next to the other two), so when we leave her alone, we put her in our bedroom. We did crate her when we went to see 3rd-of-July fireworks, due to her history of being frightened of fireworks and thunder (as many dogs are). She's interested in food when people eat or have food on the table, but so far hasn't counter surfed. Having a dog that likes food actually makes training easier. She recognizes a treat and understands the idea of earning it, despite her lack of tricks. I've been working on WAIT before eating and she's just about got it. She hasn't chewed anything or even dug a hole, not that she's had a lot of opportunity here. It's hot and dogs are either walked or sleeping in the house.
She's a wonderful little dog and we've been blessed to spend some time with her.