Sunday, November 18, 2012

#RiddickPup Is Thirty Three Weeks Old

Our Riddick weighed 28.2kg on the vet scale, which is down on last week, but the poor thing had a bout of gastro last week!
He started throwing up at about midnight on Thursday and it continued through Friday. We visited the vet on Friday morning and he gave Riddick a shot to stop him puking, and palpated Riddick's abdomen to see if he could feel something that wasn't supposed to be there- especially after I told him of Riddick's propensity for swallowing whatever he was chewing on. I was terrified Riddick had finally managed to block his stomach or tangle up his intestines with a sock or something.
The vet advised us to limit his food intake to small portions of something bland, like chicken and rice, but as he hadn't thrown up since the vet visit I gave him half of his usual supper portion on Friday night thinking he'd be okay.
Bad idea.
The poor boy threw up all night Friday! That meant neither he nor us slept well on Thursday or Friday night and I felt so guilty! The vet wanted to do a follow-up visit on Saturday morning and I told him I'd given him his regular food for dinner (albeit a half-portion), and the vet again palpated his now VERY empty stomach and was still sure there was no blockage, so he gave him another anti-nausea injection and suggested we stick to bland food for a couple of days to be sure he was over it.
We stopped on the way home and got some chopped chicken (no bones or skin) and I cooked it with some rice, which we fed to him in small portions throughout the day.
He was already much better when we woke up on Saturday morning, but there was no doubt in our minds that he was himself again and we were SO relieved.
He really is the light of our lives!
And the "sleep training" we've been doing seems to be having the desired effect as well! He is still waking up early, but he is no longer waking us up by jumping on the bed! Its fabulous!

He's still sleeping on the couch backrest if he gets a chance!
This week was a good week for some "conditioning" as well.
On Thursday night I went to a function where I was given a big black umbrella as a gift! How cool is that!? When I got home I wasn't sure if Riddick had ever seen a brolly, so once I was in the house and had put all my things down, I opened the brolly. Not fast, not slowly, just a normal speed. Riddick barked at it immediately. Without speaking- no reprimand or reassurance and no touching- I closed it again and offered it to him to smell. He sniffed it and then I opened it again. He didn't bat an eyelid.
I am confident umbrellas won't be a problem again, but should he bark I will run through the same exercise again.
And last Tuesday was Diwali, which meant LOADS of fireworks going off around our house from the moment the sun went down.
Our two older dogs, Thelma and Louise, are very nervous of fireworks, and I have never done any kind of conditioning with them. When we know there are going to be fireworks, we let them into the house so that they don't bark. This year I determined to use the opportunity to condition Riddick not to worry about the fireworks, the same way we had done with the first thunderstorms he experienced.
He is completely nonplussed by rain, thunder or lightning, and if I leave him outside when I go somewhere I will come home to a drenched Riddick because he waits for me to come home- in the rain!
And here he is, during the fireworks, after about fifteen minutes of "conditioning". SUCCESS! He actually spent most of the night on the balcony outside my bedroom.
The biggest part of "conditioning" (which is easier with puppies of course) is not to reassure the dog with touch or voice, not to reprimand any behaviour, and not to stress about how the dog may react. As humans, we tend to cuddle and reassure our animals if they're afraid of something, and the touching and crooning is essentially a reward for the behaviour they are displaying. With Riddick, we gave him a new toy and literally distracted him with play. There was no fuss made about the noise, the smell or the lights, it was just another play session. And after that he was fine!
I have to say here that we have had help from SAGA in training Volt because guide-dog puppies need to be taught from a very young age not to spook at noises and such, and it has been a big help with Riddick! He's not afraid if noises and he doesn't bark for fun.
And now for some cute photos!
Do mine eyes deceive me!??! Snuggling with Louise!??!
crashed on the couch 
asleep on the balcony