Etc… etc… etc…

A collection of things not cohesive enough to own their own post.

03/17/2011: Spanky learned the joys of the slide and can’t get enough of it!

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The Stair Master

…or should I say “Stairs Mastered!”

Thank goodness Mr. Spanky Pants can now navigate our 3-story townhome completely independently of my poor, aching back. Based on how quickly Spanky was growing, I could tell he was going to have to learn stairs sooner than we had taught Diesel. With Diesel, I remember doing all kinds of reading about keeping your growing mastiff puppy away from the stairs, lest you damage their hips. So Barry and I faithfully carried Diesel up and down the stairs until he got to be about 60 pounds, at which point I was seriously struggling to lift him and called his breeder in distress. She was shocked to learn that we were still carrying him and told me to immediately start teaching him to do the stairs on his own! Practically, she asked me: “What good will it do Diesel’s hips, if you fall down the stairs with him and break both of your necks?”

So I was determined to teach Spanky how to do the stairs slowly, but well before he hit 60 pounds. We started with the 2 steps leading into our house and moved up to the 4 steps across the street.

Spanky going up stairs (3 months)

Spanky going up stairs (3 months)

What I hadn’t expected was that less than a week after we brought him home, he followed our Walker kitty up half a flight up stairs before he realized what he was doing and stranded himself. I encouraged him up the rest of the way and he was triumphant! We continued carrying Spanky up the stairs about 95% of the time, and down the stairs 100% of the time, but over the next several weeks, we got him to the point where we didn’t have to carry him up at all.

Down the stairs was far more precarious. Watching him reach for the next step, with his wrinkles drooping forward was pretty scary to watch, but we practiced them the same as we had practiced going up: first on 2 steps, then on 4 and finally on the full flight. He actually officially mastered the full flight while I was out of town: our pet sitter did it. It was a wonderful homecoming surprise! The baby gates are still up as he does still require a “chaperone” but my boy is growing up!

Spanky going down stairs (3 months)

Spanky going down stairs (3 months)

He had his last free ride over a week ago and just in time! He is close to topping 60 pounds (which I consider to be my breaking point… literally) and dead-lifting him is no longer an option, which is also problematic for getting him in the car. Fortunately, learning the stairs also means being able to use the Pet Loader. We also have a 72″ telescoping ramp, but I much prefer the Pet Loader and so I set it up today to see if Spanky would use it. He hesitated at first, due to the open back design of the stair, but a well placed treat kept his head up and paws moving. And he was up then down three more times with no trouble at all.

Pet Loader Collapsed

Pet Loader Extended

Easy… peasy… In fact, the hardest part about the whole thing was adjusting the Pet Loader and removing the 5th step (as our last car was significantly higher at 35″). This contraption is big, bulky and heavy, but ultimately an essential piece of equipment for any mastiff owner with a tall car! I highly recommend it.

Spanky on the Pet Loader (3.5 months)

Spanky on the Pet Loader (3.5 months)

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We Are Family

Spanky went for a visit to see his littermate brother, Augie (aka “dark” puppy). Spanky popped right out of the car and ran into Augie’s house like he owned it, chasing Augie up half a flight of stairs in the process! Apparently Augie had not been previously motivated to start climbing stairs until his overenthusiastic brother came barreling into the house and charging into him. What a first impression!

Of course, once Augie realized who this pouncing puppy was, the two had a BLAST.

Augie and Spanky playing

Augie was very generous and happy to share everything he had with Spanky: his family, his water, his toys, even his big sister Patti.

Augie Spanky and Robbie

Augie and Spanky sharing water

Patti and Spanky

It will be so much fun to see these boys grow up. I love that Spanky has a brother who lives so close by that they will be able to play regularly.

Augie and Spanky side by side

They definitely seem to enjoy the same games: chasing the ball, tumbling, putting anything made of wood in their mouths.

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Follow the Leader

As an only puppy in the house, Spanky has the benefit of my undivided attention, but he also misses out on some of the advantages of modeling behavior after an older, trained dog. I have no doubt Diesel would have shown him the ropes around here. Not the least of which, would have been how not to scare off the cats at every opportunity!

Fortunately, Jaybear lives close by and he is Spanky’s older brother (and also Diesel’s nephew). It couldn’t be any better! Jaybear is a sweet, calm and wonderful mastiff who has so much to teach Spanky. I sure hope some of Jaybear’s demeanor is genetic.

We went for a visit to Jaybear’s house and Spanky didn’t hesitate to follow his big brother right inside. He copied everything Jaybear did. So cute! He even followed Jaybear when he called “time out” for a drink of water. We poured some in a bowl on the floor for Spanky, but as soon as he noticed Jaybear drinking from his elevated bowl, Spanky stood up on his tippy toes and lifted his head over the edge to drink “just like Jaybear.” Too bad I missed the shot, but here are the boys about 10 seconds prior.

Spanky and Jaybear take a water break

For a dog who is literally 4-5 times Spanky’s size, Jaybear is incredibly gentle and tolerant of my bouncing puppy.

We went to the Maydale Nature Center and Spanky followed Jaybear all through the trail. He trotted right behind him and I actually got to go for a walk that didn’t entail stooping down to pick pine cones or branches out of Spanky’s mouth every 20 seconds.

Unlike Diesel who had to be coaxed into the creek the first time he saw it, Spanky walked right in and I actually held him back. I think he would have gone much further if it had been warm out and I let him off leash.

Spanky at the creek edge

But the Piece de Resistance of the day was when Pat taught Spanky how to go down the slide! I have to admit, I was pretty skeptical about the whole affair and didn’t think Spanky would want to do this AT ALL. Boy, was I wrong! Not only did Pat get him to climb all the way up to the top of the slide platform, but once she showed him how to do it the first time, he did it twice more!

Pat and Spanky climbing the slide platform

And then the following day, since he liked it so much, I took Spanky to the little tot lot in our development and showed him the baby slide. Well, once he figured out that this was just a smaller version of the fun he had the day before (and that he could do this one on his own) I couldn’t get him off of it!

Spanky on the baby slide

Spanky climbing up the baby slide

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One New Thing

In true Chinese “Tiger Mom” style, I have so many hopes for Spanky and the things I would love to do with him: therapy work, conformational showing, rally… Some of these things will be up to him and who he turns out to be. But I feel like it is all my responsibility to give him the right foundation to be successful. So I have commited to introducing Spanky to One New Thing every day. Some days are small: walking down a new path, or playing animal noises on the computer. Some days are big: going to the grocery store or meeting new people and dogs.

Spanky at Pet Barn

Spanky at Giant Supermarket

My friend send me this Puppy Socialization Checklist to help guide his new experiences. Here’s what Spanky’s Checklist looks like so far…

Puppy Socialization Checklist (page 1)

Puppy Socialization Checklist (page 2)

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Introducing… Woodmarks No Girls Allowed

This will be my first attempt at a blog (thank you Adri for giving me the idea!), although it think it will likely be more of a photo blog/showcase for my adorable puppy, than a witty collections of thoughts. But who wouldn’t rather look at irresistible puppy photos than someone else’s idea of “interesting?”

Since we’re already about 3 weeks into this Spanky adventure, I’ll take this time to recap… My husband and I starting thinking about adding a new puppy to our family after losing our 5 year old mastiff, Diesel very unexpectedly to a rare and little understood condition (Canine Idiopathic Chylothorax). To say that I was devastated would be an understatement. I could fill volumes with my wonderful memories of Diesel, but that will have to be for another time.

And so it was months before I could even think about a new puppy. Even then, I had a couple of false starts where I almost said “yes” to a new addition, but then just couldn’t quite do it. When we were finally ready, I talked to my friend who has a beautiful bitch who I just love (CH Woodmarks First Noel at CL) and we waited for her to come into heat to be bred, but it came and without the usual hormones (a split heat, maybe?) While we were waiting for her to come in again, we heard about another breeding with Diesel’s niece (CH Woodmarks Blond Bombshell at Spcwood) and things looked promising. She was pregnant! And just as quickly, she wasn’t (resorbed her litter, we think). So we moved on. Another beautiful girl (Woodmarks Next Top Model) and littermate sister to one of Diesel’s best friends in the whole world (Chewie) was bred and we waited expectantly and hopefully. Everything looked good! The due date came and she had 2 big beautiful, healthy girls.

Oh, did I mention that I only wanted a boy?

And so in a whilrwind, I went to go see a litter (bred by Robert Miller, Leeds Hall Mastiffs and Scott Phoebus, Iron Hills Mastiffs) that I had previously discounted because they would be ready to go home in the middle of January. In the middle of a crazy travel schedule for my job. In the middle of a major home renovation here at our house. Basically in the the middle of chaos.

So of course I went to see them.

When I arrived, it was clear that I was drawn to the male with the darker head. The male who reminded me so poignantly of Diesel as a puppy. I kept trying to connect with him, but it was consistently the lighter male who trotted up to me and wanted to play. I agonized over the decision, but finally decided to go with the lighter puppy. Much to my delight, our Veterinarian (who had come with me to see the puppies) decided to take the darker puppy, so it was win-win for me knowing I would still get to see the dark puppy grow up!

Augie (left) and Spanky (right)

The next obstacle was his name. After spending a little time with him, two things were clear: 1) he was a greedy little thing and wouldn’t be missing any meals, and 2) he had Spunk. My husband, who has named all our animals, grew up on episodes of the Little Rascals. He threw out the name Spanky and I was open to it, but not convinced. That is, until we started pulling up old Youtube Little Rascal videos and agreed that our boy was definitely SPANKY:

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