Monday, April 27, 2009

Finn meets his enabler..

My mother..who spoils everyone. While she was here, most of Finn's rules were broken. No candy, no hand feeding, no being in the kitchen while we cook, no hovering around the table looking pitiful, no feeding him Cheetos while you sit on the couch...

Feeding Finn a Jelly Bean..

Finn was pretty happy the whole week, he adored my mom, of course.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Ham Bone

We finished off a huge smoked ham, and saved the bone for Finn. We knew we didn't want him eating it inside, because it would end up everywhere, and there was still quite a bit of meat on the bone.

Yesterday we were working in the yard, and gave Finn the bone outside. He immediately headed for the door to go inside. I shut it before he could get in, and he retired to the grass to enjoy his treat. Off and on during the day, I checked on him. He methodically chewed the bone for a couple of hours, then it disappeared. I looked around, and saw where he had buried it in the mulch.

Burying things is a totally instinctive behavior, but instinct can't do it all. We had never seen Finn actually dig, but he would use his nose to cover things up. We find things in the house all the time, under his blanket, or bed, or pushed in a corner of the carpet. We have watched him several times pushing the carpet with his nose to bury something. At least with the mulch, the bone actually got buried.

We were pleased, Finn got to do normal doggy things, chewing a bone, burying, and our carpet didn't suffer. Everybody wins.

Today I got home from work to find bits of the bone all over the carpet in front of the fireplace. We had been leaving the door to the back yard open during the day for Finn, so he could go out when he wanted. He had buried the bone, waited until everyone left today, then went outside, dug up his bone, and brought it inside to eat where he wanted to all along.

Wolfhounds have a quiet, clever intelligence, and a wicked sense of humor.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Finn goes visiting

I stopped off at a friends barn to take photos of her riding. When I got there she asked me to keep Finn in the truck until we were done so the horse wouldn't be distracted. I left Finn in the truck, but opened the glass so he could get air. I had walked a few yards away when I heard him scramble out of the truck over the closed tailgate. I guess he was afraid I was leaving him. I looped his leash around the trailer hitch while I did the photos. He waited patiently until we were done, then I turned him loose to run with my friends boxer Grendel.

He was very good, checking out the ban and area, never getting too far from me. He pretty much ignored Grendel, who was trying very hard to play.

I called Finn a couple of times, to see if he would come, he did with no hesitation.

Finn finally consented to notice Grendel, and while he didn't play, he did do friendly sniffs.

I think next time he will be ready to play.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Run, Finn Run!

We keep our horses at a farm we rent. The pasture is about 4 acres. Finn loves to chase us in the pasture.

Finn loves to run...

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

What happened to my list?

I had a list of desirable traits I wanted in my dog. I wanted a wiry-haired breed, so the hair would be a minimum. I wanted a breed that didn't drool everywhere. Didn't have eye/ear issues, wasn't smelly..etc. I also remember I missed having a crumb-licker, a dog to hover around and clean up all the crumbs kids tend to leave everywhere.

Well, let's see I got the wiry hair, but what's this?

Hmm...fur dust bunnies. Yes, wolfhounds do shed, they have a double coat, wiry outer coat, fluffy under coat. There is a lot of variety in the breed, I have seen some so fluffy they looked like sheep, and some with almost no undercoat. Finn, however does have fluff. Fortunately, he doesn't shed too bad, and as I brush him every day, the majority ends up on the brush.

Drooling. Well, wolfhounds don't drool (unless bacon is involved) but they do have this beard under their chin. It is impossible for them to drink water without soaking their chin. They then drip about a gallon of water as they walk around, or decide at that moment they must be petted and lay the dripping chin in your lap. Still it is just water, so I give them that one.

Eye and ear issues aren't usually a problem, but of course Finn did come with a funky ear, that seems to ooze ickky ear wax. Ear drops seem to be helping on that, and he has finally stopped struggling when I take a baby wipe to his ears. (It does feel good to have your ears rubbed) It's not bad, not an infection, and seems to be getting better. Ok, pass.

Smelly. I have always hated going into someone's house, and just smelling DOG. I was determined to never have one of THOSE houses. Now I don't think Finn smells at all. Except for the occasional bit of gas (you try eating and drinking with a mouth that big, see how much air you swallow!) he just has a warm fur smell. Now if he rolls in mud and manure at the barn he reeks, but otherwise we aren't getting that whole house 'doggy' smell. I bathe him once a month, and brush him daily. I do rinse him off if he HAS been into something disgusting, but not often necessary. So I say he fulfills this one. Of course, it may be that I am used to the smell of dog and don't notice it now. (please don't tell me if that is the case, I will be devastated)

Crumb-licker? Nope, not only does he not clean any up, he contributes the majority of them on the floor! We decided to put a soft fluffy rug in the family room, so Finn to lay on it and be with us, but off the hardwood floor (I hate the pressure callouses large dogs get on elbows from laying on hard surfaces). it started out ivory cream..

Yes, those are cookie crumbs, bits of cardboard (we like to chew it) a shredded stress ball, punctured tennis ball, stuffed squirrel, rope toy and a rawhide chew he never touches.

Every time he gets a cookie, or biscuit, he takes it to the rug to eat. Kibble mostly stays around his bowl, fortunately. I give him a pass on this too, it all comes up with the vacuum, and face it, who can resist a dog with such charm and presence??

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Finn goes to NYC

Or at least to Hoboken, NJ. We had planned a trip to visit family over Easter, but the thought of putting Finn in a kennel had me willing to stay home rather than subject him to that. I thought leaving him some strange, stressful place would undo all the we had done trying to get him to accept us as his new family, and trust us. Fortunately our hostess, my sister-in-law, is a dog person and specifically asked us to bring Finn.

We loaded 3 teenagers, a lot of luggage, my husband and I and Finn in our suburban, and off we went. We had not yet found a way to get Finn to let us know when he needed to got out, so we stopped every hour or so to take him on a potty break. He did well, was a bit bewildered about what was going on, but seemed ok as long as he was with us.

We got to Hoboken and my in-Law's apt to find it was freezing! the wind off the river was cutting right through us, and the jackets we had brought were not enough. Finn however loved the cold wind in his face, and was fascinated with the walkways and boardwalk. Fortunately the apt was in a building with dog-friendly grassy areas around it, I'm not sure Finn would have gone on the pavement. We were prepared with our poo bags no matter what.

After a walk, I went up to the apt, and Finn got to meet everyone. We turned him loose in the apt, and he was very mannerly, walking around to greet everyone. He came up to us often for reassurance though. Dinner was chicken, and as usual I put a few scraps in with Finn's kibble and added some gravy for flavor.

I don't know if it was the gray, or the trip and stress, but Finn promptly threw up dinner, all over the In-laws expensive oriental rug! Yikes! Not a good way to make an impression. We cleaned it up, and I walked to a market to get him a bit of yogurt to settle his stomach. I got a little food in him, but he wasn't happy for the rest of the evening.

We kept him in the room we slept in that night, so he wouldn't walk around a lick people all night. He did well, waking up once at 3 am, so we took him for a walk just in case. At 7 people started stirring, so we walked him again, and he supervised breakfast. Evey time we walked him, he drew attention, almost causing traffic accidents when people stopped their cars to ask what kind of dog he was. Everyone loved him, including the building staff.

We had tickets to a matinee, so we left him in the apt and took a ferry to the city. When we came back nothing was disturbed (we had our worries!) and Finn was delighted to see us again. I noticed that Finn was starting to relax, and enjoy the trip. Meeting the people, exploring new places, taking over the entire rug in the living room. He also really enjoyed the view, spending a lot of time watching the traffic on the sidewalks and greens.

Everyone was taking turns walking him, so he was getting lots of attention. He did well with the elevator, and even did stairs, with a bit of coaxing. We had one walk in the rain, and when he came back, we had two of us drying him. I think that;s when he finally realized being dried off was a good thing, and started leaning into the towels.

The next day we drove home, and Finn was happy and relaxed. The trip was a lot of fun, and I think Finn realized when we took him on the trip, kept him with us, and brought him home, it showed him he was a part of the family. This was a turning point with him, he stopped looking for his old family, and started bonding with us.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

First bath..

Just how do you bathe an Irish Wolfhound? He won't fit in the tub. I didn't want to pay for a dog groomer to bathe him (expensive, and traumatizing). Fortunately we have a walk in shower, so I just took the doors off and walked him in.

I thought I was prepared. I had my oatmeal doggy shampoo, I had towels in the bathroom on the floor, extra towels for drying, and blocked him in the bathroom by closing the door. Luckily, our shower has a hose and nozzle, so I could work on just about every part of him. I put a slip leash on him, and tied it to the top bar of the shower. All the while praying he didn't decide to really make a break for it. I wasn't sure the shower would survive.

He was miserable, but a good boy. He kept sitting down on my hands as I scrubbed him. By the time he was clean, and rinsed off, the bathroom was swimming. There was not enough towel in the world for all this wet. I dried him off best I could with what I had, then tried to slip out for more dry towels. That was all he needed, he was out the door in a flash, and running around the house.

Wolfhound fur holds a lot of water. I swear I went through 30 towels, and still he manage to coat every room with water. Lots of shaking, and lots of exuberant running. I couldn't be too mad when he was putting on such a show, the most enthusiasm I had seen out of him for anything. I took him out in the back yard and he proceeded to run laps around the yard. I got my first glimpse of the true beauty of an Irish Wolfhound. they are poetry in motion when they run. All grace, speed, and power, and they can turn on a dime.

It was almost worth the mopping and the three loads of laundry, just to see that.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Taking your dog for a walk

I am a firm believer in taking dogs for walks. Even if you have a fenced back yard, you should walk with your dog. It's not just the exercise, although that is good for both of you, it's the social activity of doing something with your dog. It creates a bond between you. Of course it also helps them sleep through the night if you wear them out.

Finn's schedule starts at 5:30 am, when my husband gets up for work. Finn gets taken out in the back yard for a quick tinkle. At 7:15am I take him for a walk. I fill his water bowl and give him dry kibble for breakfast. Sometime around noon-ish my son gets up, and takes him for a walk before class. I get home at 6 and take him for another walk. He gets dinner at 8pm (kibble, a bit of leftovers and warm water is the current formula) and a final walk at 10 pm.

He is starting to enjoy the walks, when we pick up his leash he wags his tail and comes to us. He is very polite about door ways, and walking, finally starting to sniff more, and relax on the walk. Wolfhounds are sight hounds, coursers, they are bred to run ahead and go after prey. I try to get him to walk ahead on the leash, and encourage him to sniff anything we pass that may be interesting.

I also see this as enrichment. Kennel dogs don't get the chance to sniff smells and identify things. I try to help Finn educate his nose, plus mentally stimulate him as he works to identify what he smells. We explore new places together, and I talk to him a lot, both to keep him focused on me, but also working on teaching him to recognize commands. He is very submissive, and never needs more than a quiet 'no' to get him to stop. He still looks for his family though., on every walk.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The Wolfie face

Ok, it's not fair. Wolfhound have an unfair advantage. Finn doesn't like being shut in the living room at night. He whines, he looks sad, he gives us the Face. Granted, it's not like he is in Alcatraz..

Please note the barrier here. One chair, a chair he can easily push aside. A chair that wouldn't hold a lab, beagle, or any other dog for longer than 5 seconds. But to Finn it is a barrier, and a symbol of how we are determined to keep him from his job of never being more that 3 inches from our sides.

We are cruel, cruel humans...

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Rainy days

It's not as much fun walking a dog in the rain. He gets wet, you get wet, then when you get home you have to chase him down to dry him with a towel.

Wolfhounds can shake water REALLY far...

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

One week in..

Finn is still a finicky eater. This is a new one on me, I have never owned a dog who wouldn't eat anything, anywhere. Finn not only is hard to get to eat a meal, but his tummy is upset when he does. Part of this I am sure is the meds we have him on, but part of it is the upheaval in his life.

He is not to sure about being brushed. He has two patches on him that are shaved close, probably because of hair mats. Those areas are pretty sensitive to touch, so I skip over them when I brush. I have to grab his collar to brush him or he will leave. I've also discovered he has a funky ear. Just lots of ear wax, and a smell, but still I'm concerned. I stopped by a organic pet food store and got an ear drop to try. I'm not looking forward to holding him down! LOL!