Saturday, 23 August 2008

Day 15

2 weeks! He's only been here for 2 weeks. It feels as if I've know this (not so) little brown scrap forever.

Again, I woke at 7 to find that Bran was still fast asleep so I made a huge fuss of him for having slept right through again.

He had to go to the vets this morning for a follow up check on his kennel cough and to hopefully get his second vaccination done. Apparently, the decision to vaccinate whilst a dog is poorly is individual to the vet so I was very much hoping that they'd see how much Bran had improved and let him have the vaccination as he is missing out on so much socialisation.

Getting him there was fun to even start with! Because he's not had his second vax, he couldn't walk and he's far too heavy now to carry and my car is still broken. We decided to strap him into Sophie's buggy....

He wasn't very impressed! But he at least kept still whilst we were moving. He got lots of attention from dog owners in the park as we walked through and he got to see lots of different things on our journey.

He was an angel in the vets again and sat quietly on my lap to wait for his turn. The vet was sufficiently satisfied that his cough had improved enough for him to have the vaccination as he also said that at this point he was more bothered about the lack of socialisation than the cough! What a smart vet ;o) I asked him to make a rough assessment of Bran's age as his growth and development has been so rapid that I've been worrying a little that maybe the age we'd been given initially may have been off, but he concluded that yes, Bran is just about right for a 16 week old pup.

Bran was *very* happy to get home and to be able to run around the garden and Flora was thrilled to see him back. I can only assume that she thought we'd run away with him!

We went to visit my parents and my visiting niece this afternoon. My niece hadn't met Bran before so was pleased to meet him. Bran was far too busy investigating the "new" house and gardens to pay much attention to people. He was very well behaved and didn't even wee on Nanny's carpet! Neither did he try to go upstairs which was very impressive because we have a stairgate at home to stop him from going up, but obviously my mum doesn't. At home when we eat, Bran goes in his crate but whilst we were eating at Mum's I put him on his lead and secured it under my chair leg and gave him a rawhide chew. Some lab he is! He didn't even glance up to the table where all the food was :o)

By bedtime last night, I realised that there'd only been 1 small indoor puddle through the whole of today! More progress from my little boy xx

Day 14 - Friday 22nd August

Bit of a boring old day today.

My day started at 5.30 (the first time) so back to normal, but Bran went straight back in his crate and slept until 8.30. I was still on the sofa but I definitely feel as if we're making some progress as he is much happier to go back into his crate.

This afternoon I needed to go to Pets At Home to pick up some more puppy food and ended up leaving with 2 sacks of puppy food, a Rogz lead for Flora (to match her collar dontchaknow!), a puppy sized Air Kong hoop and five - yes five - packets of treats!

I also needed to get some shopping at Tesco and so by the time I got home, the dogs had been left for about an hour and a half. I was absolutely thrilled to find them both calm, but happy to see us, and both with empty Kongs and well chewed rawhide sticks :o) I am just so proud of them both but my little boy seems to be coming on in leaps and bounds xx

Thursday, 21 August 2008

Day 13

Wow! Well yesterday morning I was woken at 6.30 by a puppy needing a wee who then very wonderfully went back in his crate, whilst I went back to sleep on the sofa, and he didn't wake up again until 9.30!! This morning, I woke up at 7 and realised that I hadn't been shouted at so hurriedly got up so that I could go and make a huge fuss of him for having slept through with no noise and no wees :oD

My collar dilemma has been solved for the time being!!

I've been trying my hardest to get hold of a matching collar/harness/lead set for Bran, but his neck currently measures 12" so is only 1" off of being too big for most manufacturers' Small size and going into the Medium. If I buy a Small set then he will be out of it within 5 minutes so I'm going to wait until he's grown that extra inch.

Luckily, The Refuge (dog rescue forum which I frequent on a regular basis!) houses a collar maker extraordinaire in the form of Laura elricc. She spends an awful lot of her time and money making collars to sell and the profits go to various dog rescues. She also makes collars and lead sets to donate to raise funds for the rescues. Laura very kindly offered to make a collar and lead set for Bran and I got to choose from masses and masses of materials!

This morning, the postman arrived with a parcel containing the collar and lead set that I'd requested, plus a collar in the same material but larger for Bran to grow into and a collar and lead set for Flora! How lovely is that?!?

Anyway, you probably want to see photos of my babies in their new get-ups ;o)

Don't they look fantastic???

I just need to sort some tags out for Bran now....

Day 12 - Wednesday 20th August

Today's dilemma is a rather embarrassing one for poor Bran.

At his vet visit on Monday, the vet noted that both of Bran's testicles were present and fully descended. Also on Monday, Bran started attempting to hump Flora. Flora is not best pleased at this form of attention. She's not told him off for it yet, but looks very uncomfortable when he does.

In an attempt to head off any problems, I decided to make initial enquiries about having Bran neutered. As all of my previous dogs have been older rescue dogs, they had all already been done before coming to me so this isn't a decision that I've ever had to make before!

I spoke to the RSPCA clinic (which is attached to the Bristol Cats and Dogs Home) and they advised me that they are happy to castrate male puppies who have testicles present from 4 months and that the operation can be carried out with just a week's notice. They also advised that Bran could be microchipped whilst he was being castrated.

I'm happy to know that they are confident in this approach but really don't know whether I want to go ahead with it just yet as he is still very much my little baby boy. Although, he is quite mature in his attitude and personality.

I know that the subject of "early neutering" is a much debated one that tends to force strong opinions from people and there is much evidence to both support and condone it, but I don't really have a strong opinion for or against it. My strong opinion stands as per every other aspect of caring for a puppy/dog in that whatever decision is made it has to be the best thing AT THAT TIME for said puppy/dog.

I think that my decision for now will be to leave it and see how we go. What I really don't want is for Bran and Flora's relationship to be damaged because she is getting annoyed with his new form of attention, so if we reach a point where I feel that that has become a real risk then I will be making the appointment.

I'm going to start keeping a record of Bran's measurements on a Wednesday to watch how fast he grows. I already know he's grown lots since he's been here but we'll see what happens from here on in.

Today's measurements (16 weeks):

Neck: 12"
Back: 18"
Shoulder: 11"
Weight: 9.5kgs (using Monday's weigh-in for now)

Day 11 - Tuesday 19th August

I tackled the waking up early thing a bit differently today. When Bran woke me at 5.30 (after having slept right through the night and not weeing in his crate), I took him out to the garden for a wee and then put him back into the crate. I then settled onto the sofa for some more sleep. Not a sound out of him! He slept on for another 3 hours!! I'm hoping that this way he'll get used to going back to sleep in his crate after his early morning wee and I'll eventually be able to go back to bed.

Today we had a visit from my best friend, Sarah, and her 3 year old, Zack, again.

Zack again came into the house scared of Bran but quickly settled and Bran was soooooooooo good that I didn't bother to put him in his crate for the duration of this visit - only when we were eating.

He was left for about half an hour at one point, whilst we walked to the chip shop, and appeared to be absolutely fine. There was no barking this time when we got home and his Kong was well on the way to being emptied. Clever boy.

He was then left for another half an hour or so when I took the children to visit my grandparents in the early evening. Again, we arrived home to a quiet, calm puppy and an empty Kong.

I really do still have to pinch myself to convince myself that he is actually here and is such a good boy.

I texted Fi to let her know how Bran had got on at the vets yesterday and she told me that he'd been previously weighed at his vet visit the day before he came to me. At that point he'd weighed in at 6 kilos! He's put on 3.5 kilos in 10 days!! I think he's going to be a big boy indeed!!

Day 10 - Monday 18th August

Bit of a strange day today. We were meant to be having a fairly quiet day until Bran's vet visit in the evening, but I ended up having to spend quite a lot of time with my grandparents so Bran got to spend most of the afternoon playing with Flora and the kids.

The visit to the vets was as good as vet visits go, I suppose. Sat in the waiting room was another lady with a very odd looking chocolate lab and she asked me if Bran was a chocolate lab puppy. I replied that he was and she shook her head before telling me that her chocolate lab is now 7 years old and still hyper. Meantime, Bran was calmly sat on my lap looking around and taking everything in but not making a noise or fidgetting. About as far from hyper as you could get without being asleep!

I explained to the vet about his symptoms and she agreed that it was probably kennel cough, but she gave him a thorough examination whilst we were there. My very clever boy just stood quietly wagging his tail while she checked his coat, his eyes, his ears, his nose, his throat, his belly, his testicles, his bottom - everything. The vet then said that she was amazed at how calm he was for a puppy of his age, let alone a chocolate lab puppy! She carried him out to the scales to weigh him and announced that he is a mammoth 9.5 kilos!!! He was then given an antibiotic injection at which he didn't even flinch. He has a 5 day course of antibiotics also and is due back on Saturday for his second vaccination.

After the vets, I took him to visit my grandparents for an hour and he was so well behaved! He just sniffed at them, had a little nibble on my auntie's handbag strap, then fell asleep.

Sunday, 17 August 2008

Day 9

Oh. My. God. My puppy has grown.

I know that seems like a ridiculous statement. Several people have mentioned that he's grown a lot in a short space of time, but I hadn't really seen it myself. However, I took a comparison photo.

I took this photo of Bran and Flora sharing the large bed last Sunday morning.....

And then took this photo - in the same bed and in the same position - this morning....

Not much space to spare!! I don't think they'll be able to share a bed for much longer!

My poor baby is poorly :o( He has a horrible hacking cough and keeps gagging, before occasionally producing some white froth, plus both of his eyes are runny. Typical that it would be a Sunday. I spoke to lovely Loobie and we've concluded that the poor little mite has kennel cough :o( He seems absolutely fine in himself and is still haring around like a loon and eating well so I'm going to get him off to the vets tomorrow. I really must stop Googling though and scaring myself into believing that he has pneumonia...

Day 8 - Saturday 16th August

Blimey! The little fella has been here for a whole week and still I have to keep pinching myself to believe that he's still here. I think I might love him just a little bit xx

We had quite a nice, quiet day today, although Bran and Flora were left at home alone for the first time while we popped out to the library. Bran was left in his crate with a stuffed Kong and a rawhide chew stick and his Nylabone. I have no doubt that he barked for the usual 5 minutes or so initially, but all was very quiet when we arrived home 45 minutes later. Bless. My next door neighbours are on holiday for a week so we're taking advantage of not being able to disturb them and are going to make sure that the dogs are left alone for some time every day, just to get Bran used to it.

The house training is going well-ish. Bran is now completely clean at night and usually sleeps right through. If he needs to wee during the night, he is doing a quick bark to let me know and I hurry down to let him out with very little noise or fuss, then pop him straight back into his crate after he's visited the garden. There are still a few puddles during the day, but mainly on rainy days because I appear to have acquired the only labrador in history who melts in the rain!!!

He can now sit like a pro and will always sit and wait quietly in his crate when his food is on it's way. Also, they get a treat every time they've been into the garden so they now automatically come in and sit quietly next to the treat jar. I think Bran has been trying to work out how to get his treat faster - Flora always gets her's first - and has started offering behaviours that I haven't even taught him yet!! Flora always does a "sit" then "paw" for her treat. Thus far, I've just been asking Bran to "sit" but now that he is offering it for me anyway, he has also started to offer a paw!!!!! I've put it on command and he will now sort of offer his paw each time he sits anyway.

Bran also got his first bath today as he was a little bit stinky (no, really this time!). It took about half a ton of treats to gently coax him up the stairs and into the bathroom before we'd even started! I'll let Bran tell you about this particular episode....

"Ooh this is a strange place. It's all big and white and makes my voice sound funny. But Mummy keeps shovelling treats down me so it can't be bad" :o)

"It's bad! It's REALLY bad!! There was a noisy thing with rain in it! And just look what it did to me!!! And yet, there are still treats....."

"I'm leaving! I'm not staying here for the noisy rain thing to get me again. Treats or no treats!" >:o(

"The weirdest thing just happened! My mum was rubbing her hands all over me - good times :o) but then my fur started going white and smells funny - bad times :o( What is going on????"

"Phew! At last! I'm out of the big white thing and I seem to be all nice and warm and dry now. Mummy's been giving me LOTS of cuddles and calling me a brave boy"

"Don't I look very handsome now?"

"But it's all been a bit tiring. Best go have a little snooze now"

Day 7 - Friday 15th August

Today Bran gave Jacob the perfect excuse to never tidy up behind himself again! Jacob had left his dressing gown on the floor (typical male!) and after we'd spent a few minutes watching Bran trying to get into the most awkward positions imaginable to try and get comfy on it, we gave in and arranged it for him in a more convenient location. Spoiled? Never ;o)

And just to prove that he isn't a neglected, bed-deprived puppy who is "forced" to sleep on a thick, plush, velour Marks and Spencer dressing gown....

He did look incredibly cute snuggled up on the gown though (NB. gown is now back hanging on the back of the bedroom door where it should be!)

Eventually, his sensible head took over and he moved into the bed. BUT....... company soon arrived......

Woohoo!! He has finally realised that the cats aren't just here for his chasing pleasure and the cats have finally realised that he's not just here for target practise!! They don't run from him at all now and will happily rub up against him. Now that they aren't running, he's realised that they're actually quite boring and pays little attention to them. That's a great result as far as I'm concerned :o)