I’d forgotten how rapidly puppies learn. Problems quickly find solutions with a little coaching. It’s not so much training, yet, as it is herding and directing attention.
Coaching Bodhi through the basics of our home and routines has been a joy so far.
Two days in, Bodhi knows us well enough to scamper after, or search us out when we’re not in sight. We’ve become his people. Or: he’s adopted us. He’s learned his name, and, like Zele before him, the word “no.”
He’s also learned the two most important words for a puppy: poop and potty.
He can unknowingly be a mischievous little guy. We’ve managed to head off chewed furniture and plants with an abundance of hard and soft chew toys, and long memories of past disasters. My next task is to find and evenly distribute all of the toys between his kennel, the back deck, and the rest of the house. And keep them that way.
Zele’s bucket of tennis balls, both those intact and her beloved mower-slashed variety have also come in handy. Bodhi loves running after them and chewing the deflated ones. While they’re still a bit large for his mouth, he’s inherited a nickname from the old girl: bigmouth. He can wrap his jaws around that ball, just barely.
Bodhi’s not fond of his kennel, yet. I learned the best way to get him quieted and asleep within it is to lay outside and speak to him soothingly, while giving his ears and chest a scratch. He shortly follows my lay-down lead, and then nods off. That was today’s lesson, after a solid half-hour of barking and yelping while I worked on our cabinets. Bodhi’s not the only one in for training.
One thing has surprised me about this Labrador. He’s nowhere near as food-crazy as Zele was at his age. I think the reason might lie in how Jane fed Bodhi’s litter vs. how Zele’s litter ate. Jane put down four large bowls for the ten pups, providing plenty of food for all in measured quantity. Each pup ate, ranged to another bowl, and ate some more until its meal was finished. In that way they all got their allotment and no pup had to compete.
Similarly, the pups had no trouble getting access to their mama’s milk the first three weeks of their lives.
As a result, Bodhi knows his meal times and eats calmly. He even takes a break, walks around the kitchen, and comes back for the rest.
Zele probably had to compete for space – her breeder was an amateur, and likely didn’t spend the effort on the pups to make meals a calm event. Nor did she pay attention to nutrition on the level Jane did.
Zele was a maniac at her food bowl for the first year in our home, despite having a bowl all to herself. I’m not sure any more than 25% of her intake was actually chewed during that period. She eventually calmed when she realized that Maggie, our first Golden Retriever, wasn’t going to take her food. We actually had to make sure Zele didn’t glom Maggie’s meal.
I loved my Zele-girl, and despite our pre-occupation with our new family member I still miss her. None of this is to say she’s any less in my eyes or in my heart. I’m simply humbled by Jane’s wealth of knowledge and her love for these dogs. I can already see the difference it made having her work with our pup before he came home with us.
#Blackbirds #Bodhi #Labrador #Retriever #Jane #Kelso #Blackbird #Fly