Saturday, March 27, 2010

One Month On

The 27th! I love that Eclipse arrived back at home exactly fourteen months, to the day, of his original arrival, so I can look back at what we did the first time around (all of two times since he was gone the 27th of May, but still!). Here's what we did last year on our three month anniversary! I can't believe he's been home for a month! It still feels like he never left and like he's not home to stay all at the same time. It's a strange feeling that I hope to get over soon!

Today we had planned on doing similar things, but it didn't work out. I was really emotional over making the decision to pursue going back to the elephants or getting a more streamlined job that has weekends off, but I decided I'm so much happier with the elephants that I can devote my summer to them without feeling like I'm missing out on weekend fun (which I'm not a fan of anyways).

Hopefully soon we'll get pictures of Eva and Eclipse back at the dog fish ladder but for now let's take a look back at Eclipse growth from a puppy to a dog an older puppy.

9 weeks
almost 17 months
10 weeks
11 weeks
14 weeks
16 weeks
4 months
4 months (First picture with "normal" Golden ears)
5 months
6 months (right before "swap")

8 months (first visit)
11 months (second and "final" visit to say goodbye forever)
16 months (right after coming home)

It's so cool to be able to see how he's changed and matured (and not!). I hope you all enjoyed looking back at the boy's time with me as much I enjoyed sharing it with you! :-D

Ally, Eclipse, Teddy & Kira

Friday, March 26, 2010

A Thing Of The Past?

Many of you know that I worked with the African Elephants at the Wildlife Safari (a local free range zoo) when I was still in and just out of high school. It was my passion and one of the truly happiest times of my life. You can read my post in December about it here.
I went with Alex today to get his check from the staffing agency he works for and the owner and I have a long history, I've been around him for nearly 3 years now and we have a comfortable relationship. He asked me how my job was going with a glint in his eye and I let him know I was no longer employed there and he looking exasperated asks "Why didn't you call me?". He pulled up my file and had me "step into his office" and we got to talking. He has a number of jobs that I could do right now, one being working at the local newspaper on the phones, full time for 3-4 months unless the gal on leave doesn't return. While I think I would like that, my heart's not in it. He asked me how I like working with the elephants and I know I lit up because I loved it so much. He has a position at the elephant barn as a "grunt" just a seasonal worker like I started out being. He's got somebody placed there now but if he told me about it I'm sure there's reason to believe that may not last (especially if I go directly to the department supervisor *wink*). I told him I'd like the newspaper job as there's more room for advancement but after thinking and fretting about it and talking to Alex and my mom, I may have changed my mind.

I was SOO happy at the safari and yes, it's a challenge for me both physically and mentally, but it's a challenge I thrive on. I was in the best shape of my life and I was so happy. I talked for so long about it to Alex and I think it's clear where I belong. Who knows, you all may be hearing soon about current adventures with my pachyderm friends. We shall see!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

17 Months!

I can't believe that Eclipse, Eva, Echo, Eola and their other three siblings are 17 months already! At the same time I can't believe they're only 17 months!

Shall we join the 17 things at 17 months? I think we shall, but just this once *wink*

1. Eclipse has been home for 25 days today
2. This time last year we were spending a lazy day in the sun and Eclipse was busy playing with his baby bears
3. Today we're spending another lazy day in the sun, but this time we're joined by Emily and Aiden while their mother deep cleans their apartment. I don't think Eclipse could be happier unless we were at the beach!
4. Speaking of the beach we had a great time at the beach on Saturday!
5. He was even joined by his sister and "cousin" Charlie!
6. He was so tired when we left that he immediately fell asleep in the car
7. Before that he decided he wanted to turn into a "chocolate golden"
8. We spent the entire weekend at Alex's parents' house out in the country
9. Eclipse was on leash only twice the entire weekend and did great!
10. He had a hard time figuring out why he and I were up at 7:30 while the other 6 people in the house were asleep until 10!
11. His black spot on his tongue is still very much present and still very endearing (no photo of that though)

12. He wiggles so much when he's happy and the poor kids and little dogs are right at the level where his tail hits them in the face/stomach/eyes
13. For some reason I'm still having a hard time realizing that the Eclipse that lives with me is the same that
lived with me last year, I need to go through and read all my blog posts to remember, instead of remembering all the pain.

14. Eclipse LOVES his crate! The first couple weeks he'd run away if we asked him to enter it but now many times he can be found in his crate with the door wide open

15. He has horrible gas from Solid Gold so we'll be changing to a different food. We'll try Canidae Grain-Free and if it works for him we'll put Teddy and Kira on it as well for simplicity's sake
16. He makes the best cuddle buddy in the morning after Alex leaves for work, he just curls up on the bed if invited and sleeps until I get up

17. His recall is 98% solid, the only thing that kept him from coming all weekend was that smell of a skunk!
Ally w/Eclipse, Teddy & Kira

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Weight Update

I forgot to update about Eclipse's weight yesterday in my update :-S I weighed him on Monday and he weighed in at 52.4 lbs. The first he weighed 51.4 so 1 lb of weight gain in two weeks. I was hoping for more but will take what I can get, especially since Sunday I gave him so many training treats he had diarrhea. We'll re-think that plan before we take him to get weighed the 29th! We're hoping for even more gain then! :-D

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Updates Galore & Paw It Forward

The weather's been beautiful here and the dogs like little more than laying in the sun. Teddy prefers to be inside but both Eclipse and Kira like to soak up the rays outside when they can.
Eclipse is still a very goofy pup and despite the fact he'll turn in 17 months old next Wednesday, he's still very much a puppy!
He loves his morning Kong, althoug he doesn't get it every day, he gets it most days.
I was planning on giving him his morning Kong only on the three days a week he'd be home alone with Teddy and Kira but those plans have changed slightly.
The plans changed because I was laid off from my job today (don't worry, I volunteered, the stress they were putting on me by saying they'd do one thing and then do another was extremely detrimental to both my physical and mental health. I'm sure they'll try denying my unemployment but they're sure to get a fight on that one!) So now I get to spend all day with the dogs and honestly, I couldn't be happier. They're my babies and I love spending time with them.
Eclipse's youthfulness comes out greatly when we do any clicker training. I'm working with him currently on a few different things (mainly leash walking) but a main one we're focusing on is putting his own toys away. I'm working with only one toy at a time right now before upping the anty to two toys at a time and then up to all 5-6 that are out at a time. The funny part is his reaction to the clicker. He loves learning new things, he always has and right now we're working on him getting the toy IN the basket. He's quite comical as he tosses the toy and looks up to me for his click, if he doesn't get the click he goes and tosses it again until he gets the click for getting it in the basket. Yesterday though he was throwing behaviours like crazy! He unplugged the heater (on purpose), pulled a rabbit skin off the shelf with arrowheads on it, picked up the toy basket and took my clicker off my wrist. Finally he decided picking up his baby bear was a nice thing to try, thankfully!
Kira and him can often be found with each other, I can't tell yet if it's because they both like being right next to me or if it's because they like each other... I think it's likely a little of both.
He's definitely being a good boy and is relearning his manners well. He's so funny in the morning because he sleeps on tie-down by our bed (don't want him and Teddy loose together just yet, not with the dominance struggle going on...) and after he goes potty he grabs a stuffy and "sneezes" while dancing around the house... Until Alex walks into the bedroom that is, then Eclipse makes a beeline for his crate, WITH the stuffy of course and waits until I wake up. He's such an amazing dog and is learning very nicely how to "go to bed" and just fall asleep until he's released. Makes dinner time more pleasant certainly.
We also got our "Paw It Forward" package in the mail Monday from Toby's raiser. It was super cute with a cute card, a couple cute blank cards, dog treats, a bone and pictures of all three dogs' names made out of dog bones :-D

So now it's my responsibility to continue to "Paw It Forward" and send packages to three other bloggers. I couldn't decide who to send them to so we'll play a little game. The First, Third and Fifth commenters will receive a small package from Eclispe, Teddy, Kira, Alex and I in the Paw It Forward fashion. They will be small packages but hopefully will be things you (and your dogs) will enjoy.
The good news is that Eclipse still "airs out his ears" to prevent infections ;-)
^Eclipse at 6 months, the day before "the swap", at the beach "airing out his ears"^

Ally & Alex w/Eclipse, Teddy & Kira

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Taking The Bad With The Good

I decided to take an evening walk with each dog individually for some one-on-one time and a training opportunity as Teddy's the only one walking as I want him to.

Teddy was of course first, set the correct tone and help me get in the correct mood to deal with Kira. Then it was Kira's turn. We took a short walk and struggled for awhile as she'd hear the click grab the treat and run to the end of her leash at her normal position. It wasn't until I slowed down and held a treat right in front of her nose a few times that we started to make progress. Once I did that she was walking great! Right at my side looking at me prancing waiting for the next treat! I've been working with her for three years on walking appropriately on a leash and I just realized I've been doing it all wrong when I read my clicker training book! We ended on a good note and my not-so-bright dog may have proven herself to be a little brighter than we give her credit for!

Then it was Eclipse's turn. He started out doing very well and then there were kids on scooters that don't care if they're 3 ft from you and still coming straight at you. We quickly crossed the street and regained focus quite easily. At that point I pulled out the beef liver treats as I knew we were coming up on a house that has three goldens (two just a couple months older than Eclipse) that are usually outside so I wanted to "beat" them to having Eclipse's attention. What I wasn't expecting was the Terror Terrier at the house before the goldens that put Eclipse into a hackling frenzy. I got him to sit calmly and clicked and gave him a treat, I even got him to "heel" and walk a few steps. Then the goldens saw us and barked but we worked through it and got on with our walk. At the corner is a black lab mix that is silent but stalks like a border collie. He makes the best training tool! When he stalked up to the fence Eclipse went nuts hackling, barking, lunging, "dancing" you name it, he did it. I can't decide if it's discomfort or stress or anxiety or desire to play that causes these outbursts but they're difficult to control. He nearly pulled me over and I weigh a lot more than he does! I was so happy I had his training collar on him, although I don't like using it, it's a handy tool when it's needed. I put it right up behind his ears, asked him to sit and when he didn't gave him a couple small corrections. He then sat, I clicked and he accepted treats from me. I had him do some commands and we walked a few steps and treated. When he freaked out again it was again time for some obedience drills and very small high collar corrections. He's definitely still got the dog issues that he had as a pup, they're just displayed differently now. I just hope we can get him over it so we can enjoy a nice, stress free walk together without barking/lunging/hackling at the dogs we pass.

Someday, just not today!

Loose Leash Walking

Eclipse started out walking great on a loose leash, I even recall stating that it was easy to forget he was walking with me at times. There was nothing I did to cause this, other than I started taking him on short walks the second day he was home. He was always on a loose leash unless he was trying to run from dogs, but that's another story.
When he was around four months old he was put in a Gentle Leader due to stress on outings and walks so I'm not sure how his leash manners progressed since he was rarely, if ever, on just a flat collar due to the constant presence of other dogs. I do know that at 6.5 months when he went to his second raiser that she had issues with his leash behaviour and he was put in a Halti and that his third raiser also had issues with his leash manners. When he visited at 8 and then 11 months for the day and I took him on walks his leash manners were atrocious. While his leash manners did vastly improve from those visits to when he was career changed and with Tabatha and then came home, they still weren't stellar.

I've been wracking my brain (and others') for ideas on how to get him walking politely on-leash without harsh corrections as I prefer other methods now. The issue we ran into within the first two weeks of him coming home (two weeks yesterday!) was that he was too stressed on walks to take treats, so we tried the easy walk harness, the Halti, and a chain training collar. The easy walk harness prevented major pulling but wasn't ideal and wasn't helping him walk politely. The Halti he tolerated and didn't shut down with like the Gentle Leader but again, it wasn't ideal as it subdued him a bit. The chain training collar by itself was effective but harsher than I'd like to use on the boy, so again not ideal.

After going two weeks of his only outings being to see his sister or going the pet store I figured we'd give treats another shot as I thought his stress would be reduced from not having to "work" anymore. This morning we gave it a shot. I set up my bait bag with four different kinds of treats (Bil-Jacs liver treats, Gooberlicious (peanut butter), apple treats and a small amount of freeze dried beef liver), searched frantically for one of my clickers which I could not locate and got Eclipse set up in his training collar and leather leash. I only used the training collar because he flat collar could potentially slip off, not easily, but it could. We started out by working on sitting and waiting at the front door despite my motions to go through it (first unlocking it, then touching the doorknob, turning the doorknob, opening the door and me stepping through with him still waiting, he got a treat after each step) and then going outside and waiting while I shut the door then going into a heel position despite the wheelchair ramp rail. He did well so we set out. He had some slight pulling before we got out of the driveway so I'd stop and he'd return to heel position of his own accord, get a treat and we'd take two steps and he'd get another treat.

The rest of the walk was stellar. It was fairly short (1/2 mile) but he got treated every 10-15 steps and he got beef liver treats when we were passing by barking dogs. He'd turn his body a bit signifying his interest but he kept his attention on me and his leash loose like I wanted. We practiced about turns and automatic sits as well to keep his focus maintained. It was so nice to see the same dog on walks as he was when he left and it took a reasonably short amount of time! The only thing I want to add to his walks is a "watch me" cue that he already knows. I need to strengthen it in the house and then we'll use it on walks too as I want to get him in Rally-O and agility so his attention on me will be necessary. "Pack walks" will restart soon as soon as he's reliable without constant treating. Oh, fun times! :-D
Oh, and he's filling out nicely. His "tuck" isn't significantly changed but he's definitely got some more padding on his ribs, hopefully tomorrow we'll get a current weight on him!

Ally & Alex w/Eclipse, Teddy & Kira

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Kids, Toys... Fleas?

Wednesday we went to Crystal's for the first chicken strips I've had in three/four months and they were amazing! (Chicken strips are my favorite food, no joke, too bad they're breaded unless they're homemade) Of course we took the opportunity to take Eclipse to see the kids. He remembered Crystal's but was too interested in Diego smells to be too excited about the kids, although they sure were excited about him! It's unclear if Emily remembered him or not but she seemed to have some recollection of him, Aiden of course just liked the big dog, he's as animal crazy and Coreena, Emily and I! Poor Crystal!
Aiden's such a happy little guy and he love his food. There are only two things that will get him to give up food willingly. 1) more food 2) feeding it to a dog. Eclipse didn't complain
The rest of the time we've been working on Eclipse's manners, including laying on his "blanket" when I'm sitting on the couch, especially with food. We've also worked some more on threshold respect and have begun working with him to pick up his toys and put them in the toy basket on command. I also got some freeze dried liver that we're going to see if he'll take on walks so we can get some better leash manners established again. It's all coming along with time and hard work.
Yesterday our order from Entirely Pets arrived and the toys were very well received! To make it even more fun all the toys aren't available at all times. In fact every Saturday we've started to switch out toys. We have a small toy basket and 5-6 toys out each week, including a Kong for some of Eclipse's breakfast that he gets to work for at least three times a week!
Yeah, Kira has daggers for toenails, she's getting a much needed manicure today and I may even steal borrow my mom's dremel to get them even shorter.
Eclipse loves the new giant galileo and even tried to take it to bed with him last night. Speaking of which, one night he somehow snuck his kong to bed with him, of course I wasn't planning on giving him the kong the next morning or it woulda been in the freezer ;-)
Along with the toys came the oh so important flea meds. He got a Capstar and Program pill last night so hopefully soon we'll see a decrease to his itching, although he's still getting benadryl to control it. In a couple weeks we'll be able to tell if the itching is from his flea allergies or something else and take care of it appropriately. For now we're at a standstill as far as that goes.
He's now fully transitioned to Solid Gold and doing well on it. I hope to get him weighed today to see if he's gained any weight although Coreena says he's looking better it's hard for me to see since I see him every day. We'll see!

Ally & Alex w/ Eclipse, Teddy & Kira

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Photo Overload

Eclipse is doing well in the adjustment to being home as a pet and seems to be enjoying himself. Photographic evidence: a smiling Eclipse at Coreena's!
Random: Eva's version of "lap"
Saturday we ventured out to some of Eclipse's original stomping grounds, Whistler's Bend Park!
Eva had a clingy moment and decided she had to be touching Coreena... or was that Eva-tude for having that thing on her face?
Eva and Eclipse romped on long lines on the muddiest hole (#1 of course) and got disgustingly dirty before Max decided he couldn't play the whole course due to the mud hurting his leg. So, we continued on without them. You can see some of the mud on Eclipse's face in this photo. We're working with him on carrying a backpack on the disc golf course although it's undecided as of yet whether he'll be carrying drinks or the discs but we have a long way to go before then since the shifting of the liquid kind of wigs him out.
Once we got to the holes that are a bit more spread out Eclipse got to go completely off-leash and Alex and him had some nice guy bonding time.
But of course we couldn't let this amazing opportunity go by without practicing Eclipse's off-leash recall every chance we got! He did phenomenally, just like he did as a babe.
Some more guy time. Yeah, that backpack is a bit too big for Cip but don't worry it only had a long line and easy walk harness in it. We're planning on getting him another one that fits better soon.
Eclipse practiced looking like a field golden, although he could never be a hunting dog due to his specialness ;-)
We also practiced being on leash in exciting places and he did well, thankfully he was a bit worn out already so we had little pulling on the leash to contend with.
See? We Alex only played 8 of the holes but Eclipse is obviously out of shape (as am I) and he was tuckered out! While his stress in vehicles has been greatly decreasing each time we go out and he doesn't have to work it was nowhere to be seen after Whistler's! Um... yeah, he's sleeping like that...
The fun part! Before going discing we stopped by Petco and got Eclipse's new food. It's quite expensive but one of the best foods I've seen for our situation. There are a few others I was considering but I settled on Solid Gold Wolf King (Large Breed Adult Formula). It's made with bison and ocean fish and has no corn or wheat in it. It's got 22% protein but the protein sources are the most usable proteins for dogs so it works, not to mention that's very low protein content. We're halfway through the transition to being completely on Solid Gold and already he seems to being better on it, namely, his stool is more firm (Thank Goodness!).
We're also giving him a supplement that I mentioned in my last post, it's called Seameal and is recommended by most golden owners as goldens tend to be very prone to allergies (as my Eclipse is) and the Solid Gold kibble with the seameal tends to help skin and coat conditions, reduces the need for steroids/antihistamines (spl?) and really seems to help all dogs as it's said it ups the digestability of foods almost 10%. In fact, Teddy and Kira are getting it now too. Solid Gold suggests using seameal with their foods since the supplements are not cooked in the food since cooking reduces the amount of nutrition, instead you purchase it separately and add it to the food to get the full effect.
Making Eclipse's breakfast and dinner takes a little longer now and this morning I started making Teddy and Kira's food the same way so that adds on 5 more minutes to my morning routine. Oh well. First I put a small amount of water in the bottom of the food bowls, add the seameal (Teddy and Kira get 1/4 tsp and Eclipse 1/2 tsp) and salmon oil and stir. Then I add the kibble and stir to make sure it's evenly distributed. (The Solid Gold is the larger kibble)
All three of them love their kibble and even more so now with the supplements added in. I hope in a couple months to see Eclipse and Teddy's hair grown in more/thicker and Kira's hair whiter (two of the common noticable changes in reviews). Teddy and Kira can't get enough of it and I detect some jealousy that Eclipse gets fed twice a day and they get fed only once. (They eat under 1 cup of food a day each, splitting it up would be pointless)
To make matters even worse Eclipse gets half of his breakfast in a frozen Kong which he loves! He was never too interested in Kongs before but now he carries his red Kong everywhere until I take it away to make the next day's breakfast.
Yesterday we got him a thing of Milkbones not only because he's spoiled (which he is) but because they are very high in calories so if we give him at least one a day that's an extra almost 150 calories. I've also upped his food intake just a bit so he's getting 4 cups of kibble a day, along with a Milkbone and peanut butter and Nutrical in his morning Kong. He's already looking healthier weight-wise but we'll see in a couple days if that shows on the scale as well.
In camera news, I decided not to get one right now, not even a point and shoot. We got Alex and xbox 360 from Max and Coreena (that I love) and some games but then I decided spending the other money on things we need for ourselves, the house and the dogs would be a more responsible way to spend the money. So, we each got a few pairs of new jeans, we got some things for the bathroom and Eclipse's food and supplements and some other things for the boy, along with leaving some money in the bank, which is always a nice thing to have. A new camera will be coming soon, May at the latest we hope!
As I've mentioned before, Eclipse has a horrible flea allergy, absolutely atrocious. So it's imperative that he be on flea medication at all times. Unfortunately I'm not aware of the last time flea stuff was put on him before he came home but it's been more than a month ago. I did put some advantage on him but it was for a dog less than half his size so it did little, although it did help some it seems. The area we run into issues is that I'm extremely allergic to topical flea meds and so I had to decide if I was going to neglect Eclipse for a couple days each month when I could hardly touch him or go with a different plan. I did some research and we've come up with a workable plan. I placed an order online at last night for Eclipse's flea stuff for the next couple months and here's what I got; 6 (oral) tablets of Capstar (kills the fleas on the dog but doesn't prevent or stop the life cycle), 6 months of Program (oral medication that stops the life cycle of the fleas but takes a couple weeks to show results, thus the Capstar) and when spring hits for real we'll put him on Frontline Plus. (I also got him a giant Galileo and Wishbone just because they're so cheap and I wanted those for him anyway!) The reason for the Frontline Plus is that we obviously go discing a lot and hope to go hiking and camping a lot this summer. In this beautiful area of Oregon there is a lot of tall grass and bushes and such that ticks hide in and like to prey on our dogs. Program does not prevent ticks at all and while I have an organic spray for the dogs for mosquitos and flies it doesn't work on ticks, so Frontline Plus it is. I'm hoping that will only be used 6 months out of the year as it's twice as much as Program and I'll have to be careful after I have Alex put it on him but it's worth it to protect the boy. Also during the spring/summer fleas are of course worse so the added protection will be nice, although when he's on Frontline he won't be on Program, no overdosing my boy!

He's an expensive boy, certainly, what with his $50 food (for 33 lbs), $35 seameal (1 lb), $15 salmon oil (8 oz), $45 Program (6 months! Nice!), $45 Frontline Plus (3 months, urgh) and toys that he must have! And that's all before going to the vet for a heartworm test (since I know he wasn't on heartguard or anything of the sort as an SDIT), heartworm preventatives, stool sample, booster shots (if I ever get his shot records, I hate over inoculating dogs...) or shot series if I don't get his shot records, Urine Analysis and a current water deprivation kidney test. High maintenance little golden we have here... but we wouldn't have it any other way :-D

We've also tried different ways of getting him to walk politely on a leash once again. The Gentle Leader was immediately nixed since he shuts down as soon as he sees it (he won't even play with Eva!) so we looked at other options. I bought him an easy walk harness as soon as I found out he was coming home but it's not as effective as I'd like it to be so don't use it much. I've tried clicker training him (and he loves the clicker) but he gets so excited/stressed/over stimulated when on-leash that he refuses food and I've yet to find a high enough quality treat to get him past that, but we're working on it. I bought him a training collar simply because his collar is too loose to use on walks in town (it's as small as it will go and the next size down is too small) and small corrections with it are very effective. We'll keep exploring and working with him and see what works best, although I did try the Halti on him that I bought for Eola and we use on Charlie and he did well on it, no shutting down or freaking out, although he did still try and get it off it wasn't the only thing on his mind. We'll figure it out though!

Onto new adventures with our little pack, even though they have to be documented with a stinky little camera for now, at least they're happening to be documented!

Ally, Eclipse, Teddy & Kira