Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug (video of Dune sharing her opinion of the x-pen)

As if you haven’t heard enough about my puppies this week. But it is Friday, my traditional day to give update on my puppies. Forefront this week has been Dune’s arrival. We have had our trying moments since Wednesday but each day gets better. She finally pooped outside last night for the first time. And she learned to go down more than one step today and then surged ahead and took the flight of stairs all the way to the bottom. She is starting to really catch on to relieving outside. Tonight she went to the door but I didn’t clue in what she was telling me until she had a pee accident right there. Hopefully last night’s two-hour scream-fest will be the last. I think we have a tactic that helps her settle down and go back to sleep after she goes outside to relieve in the middle of the night. Tonight will be the test.

Zodiac went to work with Bill again today. Dune had her first “outing” she went to my sister’s house and got to meet her Career Change black lab Clifford. They got along very well. When Zodiac got home from work tonight they were both very happy to see each other and they played together for a few minutes. I’m very proud of the good big brother Zodiac is being.

The phase report came out yesterday as usual but Yakira was still in phase 7. The good part is that the rest of her string was in phase 7 too. So it can’t be that Yakira is having a challenge with the training. Maybe her trainer got sick or something like that. I’ll be very surprised if she isn’t in phase 8 next week.

Z’s First Week


What a difference a week can make! Zodiac has made so much progress in the past week. The first few days were really rough, especially on the relieving.  But the first few days Zodiac peed and poop more in the house than he did outside. One thing he catch on to really fast was peeing in the kennel. He only did that once.Zodiac is now fairly reliable at relieving when you take him outside. He only has a problem when he doesn’t get taken out often enough or gets more freedom than he is ready for.

Zodiac in an x-pen

I like to use x-pens with puppies. They are bigger than kennel so pups are more likely to have accidents in them and we have carpet downstairs so we have a piece of plexiglass that we put under the x-pen to help with clean-up. I hate to haul kennels up and down the stairs so we use x-pens downstairs where I spend most of my time during the day. I like the x-pens too because it restricts their activity but given them a bit of freedom. I know they can’t get into anything and I can step out of the room for a minute and not worry. When they are older we use the x-pens restrict their access to a room or area of the house. I took Zodiac out before I started this post and he relieved perfectly. Now I want to give him some freedom but not too much so I’ve blocked off the area around my desk. He enjoys have more space and I know where he is. With each puppy we have found more ways to use the x-pens. I’d really like to find a couple more panels.

Actually relieving covers most the challenges were are having with Zodiac. Which is really good. He does struggle with whining and barking but as long as you don’t reward it that stuff takes care of its self. The first few days its was whining. Then when that didn’t get him what he wanted he tried barking. He started to bark saying, “hurry up with my food, I’m starving”. Each day it gets better so no real worries there.

Zodiac and Yakira playing in the backyard

We are really pleased with Zodiac. I think that Yakira has been a good mentor and he is learning the rules quickly. He seems to have a good middle of the road temperament and his stubborn side has not been a problem. We are looking forward to raising him and seeing how he grows up. At this early stage it looks like he will be a great dog.

Snow Troubles


We woke up to some snow this morning. Not much, maybe 1/2″ or so but it was cold enough that the drive way was covered for the first time this year. Well Yakira decided that when we went out to relieve she would rather eat snow than pee. Boy did I not handle it very well. I got impatient with her and we went back in without having any success. Well later in the morning while Yakira was playing with Bill she had an accident. So obviously she really did need to go when we went out and I should have been more patient. The newness of the snow meant that I needed to give her more time. We still had some struggles but we worked through it. She still likes to eat snow but I’m being more patient about it.

I need to pee!

close-up of Yakira

Today was the first time out on a walk that Yakira gave me that look. The look that means, “I need to pee, can I please pee.” It was a breakthrough because in the past she would just squat and take a pee. Oh what joy puppy raisers get from some of the simplest things. But now that I know she needs to pee or poop, I can help her through it by having her sit and pull herself together and then head back home. Once home to the relieving area, I can give her the command and after she relieves we head back out on our walk. Yeah!

First Dry Day

Yakira on the stairs

Today was Yakira’s first day without an accident! Yahoo. On Monday and even Tuesday morning I was really wondering if we were making any progress on the relieving. She had not had an accident in her kennel at night since Sunday but she was still having accident in her x-pen and it was usually right after we had been out to relieve. No there is a little light at the end of the tunnel. Yakira isn’t sleeping though the night yet but getting up a couple of times isn’t so bad.

Yakira has mastered the stairs. I was amazed at how fast she learned to climb them. It only took a couple of exposures. Down was a little slower but that only took a couple of days. Now she can do them both ways and she is even starting to skip the bottom step and leap off. I had to take this picture because Apex use to sit just like this on the step. Yakira’s legs are so short they barely make it down to the lower step.

Hiking Up Yellow Fork Canyon

To celebrate the Labor Day holiday we decided to take our girls on a short hike and have a picnic lunch. Banta has been hiking a couple of times before but this was Casey’s first experience. They both had a great time in the outdoors and did pretty good at not trying to play with each other at every opportunity. When we stopped for lunch they had a little laps and Banta ended up rolling in the dusty trail. She came up looking more like a chocolate lab then her usual creamy color. Casey is amazing in her determination to keep up with Banta. When she is in that focused little walk trot of hers, I can just imagine her pulling her partner along in harness when she is all grow-up and trained as a guide dog. 
At the end of our lunch break I decided that it would be a good idea to give Casey a chance to relieve. She did so awesome. When I gave her the “do your business” command, her body language changed. It took her several seconds to find the right spot but she did. It was the first confirmation that she actually understands the command. She has only been relieving at home in our relieving area. She has that done very well but I wasn’t sure if she understood the command or just understood that when we went outside to this area that she should relieve there. This is a big milestone for her.
On the way back to the car on the hike there was a small stream to cross. Following Casey’s example the two of them tromped through the stream and then through the dusty dirt on the trail. If we thought Banta looked dirty before now she was almost as much black as she was yellow lab. Casey didn’t look as dirty but she was, especially her belly being so much closer to the ground. They both went into the bath as soon as possible when we got home. Thank goodness I had a quilt in the car to protect things from their more than just muddy paws.

Relieving Challenges

We had a bit of a breakthrough with relieving today. Yesterday afternoon through this morning Casey did almost half of her relieving in the house. Most of the time I took her outside to our traditional relieving area on the drive way she showed no interest in relieving. She didn’t have any accidents on the carpet so the clean-up was easy. Today it occurred to me what the problem might be. Yesterday on one of her first trips to the relieving area a big souped up pick-up truck roared by and scared Casey. She didn’t seem to be over-reacting to cars going by now but my Dad commented that she seemed a little nervous out there and she never really relaxed. The clincher was when I finally took her inside and put her in the x-pen she promptly squatted and peed! So after discussing it with Bill we decided to move Casey’s relieving area to the backyard. It has worked wonders. She has relieved every time we have taken her out now and only had one accident. That was when she paused for a moment while playing tug with my Dad. Yahoo! It is a relief to have that back on track.