Friday, January 28, 2005

Through the Looking Glass

Twice we have been transported to a wonderful place at human dinnertime. A land where Harley is not being bugged and the cat is not subject to blitz attack (ok, maybe Jessie got jumped once, but once hardly counts). One where humans aren't constantly bleeding from the laying on of sharp little puppy teeth. A land where 'no' is used only in casual dinner conversation, as in "No, I don't care for any more pot roast" or "No, I think we stopped the dvd at the previous scene last night". A land where Charlie is independent, polite and well behaved.

Being good.

Perhaps it's because we were watching Star Captain at the time and Charlie wanted to help create a fantasy atmosphere. Perhaps it's one of those quantum theory situations, like molecules of air all migrating to one place in a room and leaving the rest in vacuum, that are very unlikely but possible.

Could he be sick? I don't think so, he's our playful Charlie in all other ways! And last night he went back to wild dog briefly between dinner and bedtime.

Maybe, just maybe, Charlie's growing up!

Charlie and legal fun

Wednesday, January 26, 2005


Charlie is learning to fetch a ball. Unlike a previous dog, Husker, who was a "run after the stick, grab it and run off with it, never let mom get close to it again" kind of Golden, Charlie thinks it's fun to bring the ball back. Now we just have to work on the "give it to mom" part.

Charlie, the Golden Retriever, in action (click on the image to play a movie)

Monday, January 24, 2005

Charlie Hams it Up

Charlie seems to know when the camera is on and that it's time to be extra cute.

Moose (Charlie) and squirrel

He runs around.


And rolls on his back.

I'm cute!

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Finding his Voice

Charlie has begun to bark. At anything. At everything. He barked at me coming in the front door. On his night walk the tiniest little noise across the street set him off. At the vets (where btw he weighed 27.4 lb), he entered a barking contest with a huge 107lb yellow lab. If not for mom's intervention, he might have won.

The least little noise is worth a bark. In the house. Out of the house. It doesn't matter. If he hears it and he doesn't recognize it, it's worth a bark.

Charlie watches over his kingdom, ready and alert.


Monday, January 17, 2005

Ragtime Puppy Charles

Out in California where the bad cats are
Nothin' there to guide you but the evening star
Roughest toughest pup by far
Is Ragtime Puppy Charles

He got his name a singin' to the kitties when they sleep
Every night up to their beds he'd creep
Trying not to use his teeth
But growlin' soft and low...

He always barks
Ragged music to the kittens
As he parks
Near the place where they're sittin'

With his bud, a pretty good golden
Who is syncopated gaited
What a funny meter
To the barking that's repeated

How they run
When they hear this puppy come
Because the Western cats he gnarls

Know he's a rootin' tootin' high falutin'
Son-of-a-pup from Indiana
Ragtime Puppy
Talk about your puppy
Ragtime Puppy Charles

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Entering the Teen Weeks - Taking Stock

Today Charlie is 13 weeks old. He's grown as well as grown up a lot in the last 5 weeks. He's learned to do all his business outside (and we take him out often to ensure success), to walk on a leash, and to come when he hears the special whistle.

Charlie loves to bite and chew. Sometimes he's able to control his urges and bite legal things

Legal chewing

but often those devil urges get the better of him.

Uh oh ... something bitey this way comes

Giving in to temptation

Even though he loves to chew, he doesn't waste time on it when he eats. Consuming calories is a very serious matter to Charlie!

Charlie is somewhat trustworthy for short periods by himself, although never with Harley, who won't protect himself

Charlie v. Harley

or Jessie, who would but has no front claws with which to do so

Supervised visit

or, for Charlie's sake, Pouncer, who has what it takes and the will to use it

Pouncer & Charlie

or food on a table he can reach.

There must be calories here somewhere...

When he's at home unsupervised, Charlie stays puppygated in the bathroom. He doesn't like it, though, and barks his head off. Fortunately, unlike his sister Sophie, he still can't get over the gate.

In the slammer

So, Happy Birthweek, Charlie! May your teens be even more fun and educational!!

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Charlie and the Treat Whistle

When Charlie first arrived, he loved to play in the backyard. So much so that it was hard to get him to come back in. And he quickly learned that big people can't catch determined little puppies.

Playing in the yard

So the treat whistle was invented. This had worked successfully with cats previously. Pouncer, for example, is an outdoor cat and loved to mooch at the neighbors. To get her to come home at night, I taught her to associate a special whistle with food in her dish. Being a ravenous little creature (not unlike Charlie) she began coming when "called".

At wits end trying to get Charlie back in the house, I turned to the whistle. At first I whistled the special tune and gave him a treat. Then when we played and I clapped my hands for him to run to me, I'd also whistle it. When he came, he got a treat.

In no time, Charlie was running to me whenever I whistled those notes - even if he was having fun outdoors and I wanted him to come inside! Now he comes reliably. Even if I don't have a treat. In fact, as they say, 'intermittent reinforcement is the most difficult to extinguish'.

Here's an example of Charlie first ignoring me and then coming to the treat whistle.

Here he comes! (click on the image to play a movie; and make sure to turn your speakers on)

I worry that Cal the Wonderdog and Sam the Beautiful All-black German Shepherd will not approve of such shameless manipulation, but I submit that dogs program people all the time. Sitting by the door to go outside, barking for food... who really trains who?

And if I ever have to go searching the neighborhood for his little royal highness, it would be good to have a special way to find him. Anyway, that's my defense. And I'm sticking to it.

Monday, January 10, 2005


Charlie has discovered the coffee table. Source of newspapers and remote controls, sometimes food. Yesterday I caught him square in the act...

You are so busted!

Of course, after being chastised he is so sweet and angelic. How could anyone ever think this dog would do anything wrong!?

Who me?

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Charlie's New Legal Toy

Charlie has a new legal toy. One that he likes even better than his ex-mouse - a basted braided chew! Ymmm!

Charlie and braid

He is completely engrossed by this yummy treat - a very rare thing for Charlie who is almost always on the move. It's better than bugging Harley. It's better than chasing Jessie. It's even better than going for a walk! Obviously he's attracted to its potential food value. Now if he can just keep mom busy while he devours the whole thing.

I can see already that he's only going to have limited visits with the chew. Within an hour he's really made progress. But then, what else to expect from a 12-week old who's chewed one end off a puppy nylabone in just 2 weeks. That boy's got teeth!!