Tuesday, July 31, 2007

A volunteer Dog

First Day Volunteering. | The Adventures of Spencer : Sticker Dog's mascot's Blog

One of the blogs I read on a regular basis is about a dog who was recently certified as a therapy dog. Spencer is a vibrant golden retriever that I am sure brings smiles to people's faces.

I hope one day we can bring Finn to the point where he can do these sorts of things. As I always maintain, watching him make a stranger smile is the best feeling, but there are some steps to take first. Of course the training we are doing with him now will help, but one of the goals of this should be the American Kennel Club's Canine Good Citizen test. Sure some of the tasks are a little ways off:

Test 8: Reaction to another dog

This test demonstrates that the dog can behave politely around other dogs. Two handlers and their dogs approach each other from a distance of about 20 feet, stop, shake hands and exchange pleasantries, and continue on for about 10 feet. The dogs should show no more than casual interest in each other. Neither dog should go to the other dog or its handler.

but I am confident Finn will be able to pass this test with flying colors. Once he passes this crazy puppy stage we'll set some more goals but for now we are content to enjoy watching him sit and lay down on command.

here is a little video of a portion of our training session. As you can see he is starting to know down pretty well. I can get him to do it without treats too, but he doesn't stay down as long. Enjoy.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Pet Ownership- Why pets are NOT a waste of money

While browsing today for pet articles I stumbled upon a few that seemed to attack pet ownership, and some for the wrong reasons. This article argues that Americans are spending too much on pets ($40Billion estimated in 2007). I agree some people spoil pets beyond reason, but what is the true cost. When I spend $50 on Finn what opportunity cost do I incur. Assuming once a week I do not go out on account of Finnegan that has to save me some money, right? Moreover, the author ends his column by stating:

From now on, when I buy pet food or pay for a visit to the vet or buy them anything, I’m going to set aside a matching amount. That cash will come out of my spending money. At the end of the year, I will give the money I have saved to a local homeless shelter or the local food bank or some entity that helps people. It will remind me that pets are a happy luxury, but they are in no way equal to men and women in need; animal noises are not human cries and no amount of rationalization can persuade me otherwise.
The flaws in this reasoning are abundant, but the main one seems obvious to me. What was the "spending money" going to be used for in the first place. Making a moral issue out of a pet is one thing, but saying that your pets are the only thing you use money for which does not serve a higher purpose is another. Will he be setting aside a matching amount from any other recreation he is a part of? Movie tickets, vacations, deserts. Are you entitled to these luxuries any more then you are entitled to use you funds on a pet. Who is the judge of this, the people to whom you are donating the money. Would they agree with your other purchases, how nice is your car? Is it your own judgement which tells you what is right and wrong. If it is and you have decided that your pet is the only decadent thing about your life then I can agree with your reasoning, but I highly doubt it is.

Another article talks about the humanization of pets. Cats with toothbrushes, pet spas, even cars and houses designed with pets in mind. " Cat-lover Lierra Lenhard, who designed her home seven years ago, included pet friendly features such as a feeding area, fans in closets that would contain litter boxes and numerous cat doors, one of which leads from the second floor onto a catwalk that spans her open great room." Is this a bad thing? In an age where we clear cut thousands of acres of trees a year, exterminate millions of "pests", and hunt species into extinction, is it so bad that we have found a way to peacefully live with another species and improve their likelihood of survival.

If all of this is not enough to think about I pose another question, Are pets JUST pets? Is the return on investment (even if the investment is extravagant) enough to make economical sense. Pets provide a number of advantages that are tough to quantify. Pet owners use there pets to educate children, increase their activity level, provide companionship and do many other things.
Americans spend at least an equal amount on stress relief as they do on pets every year, and that is just ONE of the returns pets provide. Responsible pet ownership is truly important (Thanks Bob Barker) but examining pet spending numbers alone is an incomplete way to judge whether or not pets are a drain on money. Keep in mind many of the companies who reap the benefits of this booming market have programs to give back and to help promote conscious, educated pet ownership.

A dog like Sir Finnegan may be a costly endeavor, but the cost isn't even in question for me. Finn converts my money into what I want it to be, happiness, more efficiently than anything else. For that I will continue to spoil him.

Finn Vs. Squirrely

Took a few photos and videos yesterday while playing with the pooch. This is him rolling around and gnawing on his squirrely just before we gave him a bath. He does this sort of thing for about 4 hours a day and it is so much fun just to sit and watch him as he flops around pawing, chewing and squeaking his toy.

Above is the video and below is a still of a stretched out playful Finnegan.

Above: Fetching a thrown squirrel
Below: Surveying the scene (while still protecting his squirrel)


Rent-a-dog service debuts in California - On Deadline - USATODAY.com

I read about this service a few months ago. It is a part-time dog owner company. The idea is loosely organized like the Flexcar idea, where many members jointly "own" cars which can be reserved for specific trips. The car idea appeals to environmentalists and folks who seldom use vehicles and can save on car payments and insurance.

Sharing a puppy is a different story. Although it seems members of Flexpetz will avoid a variety of fees (vet bills, training, food) they still have to pay a hefty fee to be a part of the program:

$150 training fee plus a $99.95 annual fee and a $49.95 monthly fee ($599.40 a year). That doesn't include the dog. It costs between $24.95 and $39.95 a day -- plus tax and up to $35 in delivery fees -- to rent a pooch.

I like the idea of rescuing dogs, which Flexpetz tries to do, and giving them a better home. However, I don't see how this is ensuring a dog a better home. Flexpetz offers a list of questions to help decide "Is Flexpetz for you?" One of which is, "Are you prepared to treat a FLEXPETZ dog with the same love and respect as if the dog was your own?" It just seems that no one can say yes to this. Owning a dog is a commitment, and what happens if none of the part-time owners build a true loving attachment to the puppy? What owners try it out for a few months then decide not to re-enroll? Who disciplines the dog on a daily basis, shows him where to eliminate, makes sure he gets a walk and enough play? If you don't have enough time for a dog in general won't you be distracted when it is your time with your pet. I truly hope for everyone's sake that Flexpetz finds a way to ensure all of their owner's are of the same high caliber as the dogs deserve.

Finn will be shared with family and friends in years to come and it's likely we will even take him to kennels or daycares (provided we research and trust them) but he will always have his home with us.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Top 5 Reasons to own a Pet

Life is a Journal - Self Help For Lazy People!: Top 5 Reasons to own a Pet

I found this link through Lifehacker.com , a website about making life easier. The post it links to is one man's top 5 reasons for owning a pet. I have to say he wrote a good list. The only things to add might be exercise and routine/stability. Having just graduated college where no two days were alike it is refreshing to know that every morning I start my day with a nice walk with Finn. It gets me moving in the morning and makes my day feel much more productive. Additional pluses that wouldn't make the top five list.

6. Don't have to sweep crumbs off the floor
7. More flies to swat (swatting flies is challenging and fun)
8. Can recycle used tennis balls
9. Gives me something to take pictures of and write about
10. Personal achievement felt when a new trick, command or task is mastered or taught

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Saturday Afternoon with a puppy

Finn testing the waters in his pool.

Ann B. wetting Finn down and trying to cool him off.

Shaking off all that water
Waiting politely for the right time to bolt.

The week seems to go by a little faster when living with a dog. I'm not knocking it, quite the contrary. Waking up in the morning used to be a chore, but getting up to throw slippers on and go let the fur ball out of his cage is soothing. Nothing says relaxation like a robe some slippers a glass of OJ and a casual game of fetch. Plus it is nice to get an early start on the day, do some training sessions and work off some puppy energy with a walk.

Walking with Finn is getting better everyday. He is learning not to pull on the leash and knows to stop at curbs and wait for my command. The attention he gets is another thing. It is a rare walk that no one stops to comment on Finn and how great he looks, and I think it's going to his head. He loves meeting new people and welcomes petting. When we see someone new, after an initial sniff, he plops his butt down and waits for the onslaught of pets and praise. Watching other people see him and smile is still a great thing. It seems he can brightens anyones day, even other dogs.

Ozzy, the dog next door, was one of the pups who was lucky enough to meet Finn this week. We took him over for a play date and let the two of them romp around in the yard. It was a new experience for Finn, Ozzy has about 45 lbs on him and it took a few minutes for them to fall into a rhythm but once they did it was like they were old pals. In the future we plan to let them hang out together during the day, no reason to keep two perfectly friendly dogs separated by a fence, just so long as they don't start digging.

As far as the yard goes, it's holding up alright. Julia bought a few things this week that should help. One is a supplement given daily to Finn that is supposed to lessen brown spots from his pee. I will be checking the label thoroughly before giving this to him. The other is applied directly to the grass and, as I understand it, is a sort of coloring agent that dyes the grass back to green. We also filled up his pool today. It's just a kiddie pool, so there is no diving allowed, but pawing around in it is fun and helps the guy keep cool. Those are the pictures above, with Ann B. Ann, by the way, loves the puppy. He greets her daily at her car daily, and was so adorable this week she surprised him with a bag of beef jerky today. Lucky him.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Doggy DJ

Walking The Dock: iPod Dock Converts Dog into Walking Barking Boombox - Gizmodo

This thing looks great on the stuffed puppy they have. I only wonder if it is made for larger dogs. If they do I am sure getting one for Finn as he gets bigger and is better able to run with Julia or I.

A couple intriguing pets

Crack The Bell - The Blog - Wonder Pets

Found this well written story today. The guy talks two interesting pets as well as a kids TV show about Wonder Pets. All good stuff.

The golden retriever mentioned saved a two year old. What's that Sandy, little Connor is lost in the forest, it's getting dark out? We gotta hurry. Luckily the kid was found "sitting on a stump, alert, calm".

The other story mentioned is about Oscar the grim reaper of cats. There is nothing more terrifying than an animal that can sense death. I don't know about anyone else, but if I'm ever put in that home I will DEMAND the cat be removed. They even quote a worker as saying "As a rule, 'this is not a cat that’s friendly to people'". I understand the healing power of pets, but this is just to dark for my tastes.

Poop in public

Yesterday I took the lawn pooper down to visit Julia for lunch. She had found a nice little cafe (North End Cafe in El Segundo) which served great food and was very dog friendly. They had a big canister of free biscuits for puppy customers and a few dog bowls outside for public use. Finn was so polite and well behaved while eating that we decided to take him to Petsmart and get him some toys as a reward. He was good in the store, walking around and sniffing everything but not biting, (although anytime something squeaked he got a bit rowdy) until we were about to check out. With no warning Finn squatted down and dropped a smelly number 2. Now it was Petsmart, who is prepared for this sort of thing, but it still is embarrassing. Julia got some towels and spray and cleaned everything up. Unfortunatly we had no $6000 designer dresses, but the baggie/towel/spray combo worked just as well.

Finn had relieved himself before we left and was only about an 1.5 hours removed from his last go and he hadn't eaten in a few hours. The whole thing is a big mystery.

On the way home however, he was much better. No longer does he just sit scared in the backseat of the car, trying not to fall over. Now he tests the limits of his harness and even tries to poke his head out the window. This action is highly discouraged, due to chance of injury. His favorite position though is directly in the middle of the back seat, peering forward between the chairs right up at me. I enjoy this becuase any time I hit a stop sign or stop light and I turn around to check on him this is what I see.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Most Popular Dogs In America | Cool Dog Hall of Fame

Most Popular Dogs In America | Cool Dog Hall of Fame

So it seems folks are shying away from golden retrievers. They have fallen from the second most popular dog nationwide to fourth, being replace by Yorkies. The run down of the Los Angeles top dogs looks like this.

1. Labrador Retriever
2. German Shepherd Dog
3. Bulldog
4. Yorkshire Terrier
5. Golden Retriever
6. Poodle
7. Pomeranian
8. Miniature Pinscher
9. Pug
10. Maltese

At least a retriever took the top spot. Finn could make a difference in these numbers in two ways.

First: Once we register him (we haven't with the AKC yet because we want him micro chipped and neutered before we do) it'll add one more purebred Golden to the registry.
Second: For all the people we see on the street who think he is just amazing I feel we will convert at least one of those Yorkie owners to get a dog that can actually fetch.

They also have the listing for the Top 50 Cities in the US.


Finn met a bear last night. Not a real one, luckily, it was the Bruin Bear statue on UCLA's campus. We stopped off at CPK in Westwood first then parked and took Finn out for a picnic on one of the quads. We brought his food and a toy so he wouldn't feel left out and sat eating well he sniffed around, testing the limits of his leash. After dinner we took him on his nightly walk, this time around the campus. It was harder than his normal walks thanks to all the hills. He seems to have this socialization thing down pretty well, though he did attempt to go meet a few people he generally was distracted by all the great things to see. Before leaving we stopped in front of Moore hall so Julia and Finn could take a picture in front of her dad's building.

That's Finn jumping on me during our picnic.

Here's Julia playing with Finn on one of UCLA's quads

Bruin the bear, Finn wasn't afraid in the least.

In front of Moore Hall

That's the inverted fountain that drains to the basement of the math department.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Full Moon causes spike in Vet visits

Colorado State University - News & Information

Although the study cites a 28% increase in emergencies during the full moon they also mention that it correlates to about 1-2 more due to the limited scope of the study. Still I'll be keeping an extra eye on Finn on July 30th.


Here's a couple more pictures of the Finnster taken today. I couldn't get the pictures I wanted simply because Finn likes the shade, but a few of them came through pretty well.

Monday, July 23, 2007

First soldier-dog team killed since Vietnam buried together - On Deadline - USATODAY.com

First soldier-dog team killed since Vietnam buried together - On Deadline - USATODAY.com

A golden retriever was recently killed in Iraq. Sgt. Cooper (the dog) and his handler Cpl. Kory D. Wiens were killed while on patrol. Our hearts go out to them and their families.

Top Tips For Training Your Golden Retriever

PR-GB.com... News from origin - Top Tips For Training Your Golden Retriever

Here's a fairly standard article on training for a golden retriever. Nothing really ground breaking but it covers all the major topics and makes note of the "you are always teaching your dog even if you don't think you are" theory.

- From the very first phase, praise your dog for desirable behavior, or discourage him for an undesirable one. For example, if your puppy is playing with your kid and fetches a ball, praise him. You may like him to perform such tasks and therefore he has to understand that. On the other hand, if he is littering around, discourage him and teach him the right way to release himself. In this way you can begin training your golden retriever puppy.

Cute Other Dogs

The Daily Puppy / Millie the Golden Retriever.

This site tends to have great pictures of puppies. I plan on submitting some photos of Finn when I get a few that are of a high enough quality. Sure Finn photographs well and is amazing, but it is tough to compete with the likes of very little puppies like this one.

Millie the Golden Retriever Puppy

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Oprah and dog CPR

Oprah Winfrey is a dog owner and even had the dog whisperer on her show to help with the puppy problems. Then tragedy struck.

In may Oprah's golden retriever was involved in an incident that ended in the worst fashion. Recently the AP ran this article, from Forbes.com, about the accident and Oprah's response. In the article Oprah states"I ran barefoot out of the house and found the dog walker and one of my security guys pumping her chest,". Unfortunately the dog was unable to be revived. Although chest compression on a dog may seem strange it is an effective way to revive a dog.

Dog CPR hits close to home for Finn because his sister was revived. While still young she was trapped when her mom rolled over onto her. The breeders found them soon after (this was before we got Finn) and started mouth to snout. The dog was brought around and rushed to the hospital where she was nursed back to health before being sent on her way. After the incident the breeder decided they would be keeping her. Because they couldn't certify her mental health and because it was such a powerful incident (breathing life into any being is simply heroic) they felt it was there duty to raise her and give her a happy life.

Dogs may not have emotions like humans but losing a sister really can not be good for the mind. Saving her may have helped give Finn his wonderful temperment and provide for pictures like this.

First Training Session

Today was Finnegan's first formal training session. This morning we fed him less of his normal food (as directed by the trainer since he works better hungry) and packed up some bags, treats, and a towel as we headed just down the street for the lesson. The class, held at a park about a mile from here, was intended to be a group class but there is only one other dog in the class. Of course, we see no problem with this as we essentially get private lessons.

Most of the class was spent talking with the trainer, Caryl Wolff of Doggie Manners, about what the class would cover and general dog physchology. As many trainers are fond of saying, Caryl believes 80% of dog training is human training. A consistent owner will be able to teach a dog any number of commands and tricks. There are five steps to each command.
1. Say the dog's name
2. Say the command once
3. Wait for the correct response
4. Praise well the correct behavior is occuring (there is a .25 second window right after the correct action when the praise should be given)
5. Releasing and ending the command

Our first command was a very basic "Watch". This is intended to gain the dog's attention and make sure he focuses on whoever is handling him or calling his name. Even though it sounds easy and basic adheering to the same guidelines every time can be tricky. Praising for the wrong action, praising to quickly, or not releasing are all mistakes that can be made unless you are focusing on your own actions. Once we began the commands Finn did very well, or rather Finn did his 20% well and I did my 80% alright. To keep the dog focused only one handler works with him during class, next week Julia will be the one to work with him.

Homework. With any good class there is some amount of practice needed to truly gain the most out of the instruction and dog training is no different. We were instructed to work with Finn 5-6 times a day for 4-5 minutes each time. Done correctly this is all the time that is needed to establish behaviors. We are looking forward to teaching Finn how to balance treats on his nose and roll over so for now we are eager work with him and teach him how to learn.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Play Date

A friend recently got a husky puppy, and since both of Finn and Lala (the husky) have a ton of energy we decided to get them together for a play date. Although always worried about them doing harm to each other, we let the two of them romp around in the yard and get all their playful puppy fights out of their system. Even though Lala is much smaller then Finn she was putting up a great fight and even managed to pin Finn down a few times. Then they found the pool. Lala was an experienced swimmer since she lives by a pool but Finn was not. He started lapping at the water and soon after had fallen in. Luckily, having seen this coming, both Eric and I were there within a few seconds and were pulling Finn out just as he got the hang of things. He was great at staying afloat but we were not taking any chances.

After a few hours we headed out so as to keep the pup on a regular sleeping schedule. On the way home he was calm and relaxed and when we got back we gave him a few minutes to settle down before putting him to sleep. It was good to get him a little more socialized, especially with the group training starting tomorrow. Hopefully this is the first of many play times with other puppies.

There is Finn getting intimidated by the small but fierce Lala.

Finn after his dip in the pool.Lala protecting her territory and Finn running away.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Car Trip

Today Finn and I loaded into the car and drove down to meet Julia for lunch. Going all day without seeing the puppy is hard and we'd like to get Finn acclimated to the car. I finally figured out how to put his harness on him, which keeps him safe in the car, and took along water, poop bags, and some treats. Of course Finn was very well behaved when he met everyone at Julia's office and when we took him to whole foods. Although he couldn't go into Whole Foods (understandably due to their vast open food displays) the tables outside were shaded and Finn politely sat with us while we ate. Despite the crowds he was clam and sat politely eating his food and water while we ate our meal. In the future we will try to avoid daytime driving, with how hot the car gets, but with the windows down and the fan blowing he was relaxed and almost bored as he fell asleep on the way home. He wasn't a distraction in the car, except for his severe cuteness, and I managed to snap a nice picture of him while I was at a stoplight.

His socialization is coming along. With this trip and a recent one to downtown Westwood he was exposed to a lot of new stimuli. He does really well with new places and new people but does seem slightly overwhelmed if there is a crowd that all wants to pet him. One of two people at a time though are right up his alley, he loves drawing attention from strangers and it makes my day too when I see him make someone smile.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Gonzo Dog

Another new long walk record clocking a whopping 1.2352miles on Gmaps pedometer. Slowly he is being able to go further and further. I found some tips about training a dog to walk here, but nothing definite on how far a dog should be walking. Most links I have found leave it at a vauge "it depends" so Finn will be the judge of our walks (distance wise only). He seems fine with this distance though, and as long as we check his feet, bring water when it's hot, and remember to carry a poop bag this walk should be good for him once or twice daily. Today it was hot out and at the end of the walk Finn was tired and lapped some water before plopping himself down on the concrete, but he wasn't tired on the walk which will be our barometer on whether or not the walk is too long.

One good site I found however was Allexperts.com. People post questions and experts answer them, and they have a variety of categories. Here is a list of dog questions and here is a question about a 4 month old golden and how long it's walks should be. Although the answer leaves something to be desired, I'm booking marking this for future reference.

Of course the picture you see is Finn sporting his new specs. It's sunny outside, but his eyes will be kept well shaded.

A good reason not to chew on plants...

Julia passed along this website this morning. It has a list of posinous plants that can cause harm to the pup. Not all of them are life and death, it just states that they may cause a toxic reaction in a pet. "Poisonous plants produce a variety of toxic substances and cause reactions ranging from mild nausea to death." So it turns out we have two of these in the backyard the first is the Sago palm. It sits in a pot in the backyard and is described here as causing "Diarrhea, Liver damage, Vomiting, Increase in water intake, Nervous system depressants, drowsiness, coma, muscle paralysis"This is a picture of the sago palm.

We also have a plant called an Elephant Ear, soemtimes called Angel's Wings. As far as that goes here it says:

Elephant Ear: These plants with leaves up to 4 feet (1+ meter) are related to taro and grow in wet, muddy conditions near streams and rivers. Like the taro plant, they contain invisible calcium oxalate crystals, tiny sharp needles inside the plant cells that irritate the skin. What I did not know is that these plants have a cell mechanism to project the crystals whenever a leaf or stalk is broken. Crushing or chewing the leaves or stems will cause a burning rash where the crystals embed in the skin or mouth. Differernt species had varying amounts of calcium oxalate. Taro leaves must be thoroughly cooked, and elephant ears were only cooked in times of famine.
Above is a picture, I don't think this is the same as the one in the yard but it may be of the same species so he should stay away. That's about enough to worry about for now though. We'll work on moving them so there is never a question or worry about him getting into them. This site also seems to have some good advice on keeping things safe for a pet and generally cutting down on pests in a garden. With all the potted plants around here this is definitely something to stay on top of.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Insects and seafood

As with any child Finn has a short attention span, espically when it comes to his toys. He gets a new one anytime one of us is at the pet store or just bored. Our supply of bones,teeth cleaning treats, and stuffed things is stashed where he can't find them, so we have something to give him in times of need. Last night was one of those. With the shots possibly slowing him down he was sniffing around in the grass when, we assume,he was stung by a bee (said bee was then crushed handily by a sandal in retaliation). We never found a stinger but his jowls started to swell slightly and take on a more solid feel. Finn seemed fine about the whole ordeal, and I even wondered if he noticed; his appetite was normal as well as his play level and he was not whining or doing anything differently. We let him go to bed since he was showing no symptoms of anything being really wrong and luckily for us the swelling was gone this morning as if nothing had happened. Crisis averted thankfully. In the future though we will try to give him a little

This morning he went on another long walk and did a great job although there are some minor things he needs to work on (wanting to meet everyone that runs/walks by, pulling gently on the leash) that this weekends class should help. When we came back I played with him for a few minutes in the yard and managed to capture this video of Sir Finnegan dining on some calamari. He loves all of his toys but this one is his current favorite, maybe because it is a delicacy, but most likely because it is his newest one.

The video is me playing fetch with him, of course the minute I turn on the camera he doesn't bring the toy back, but at least he is still adorable.


Yesterday Finn received his last round of puppy vaccinations, now he is free to roam the streets and sniff other dogs without fear of contracting some scary disease. I took him to the local pet store's Vet clinic. Although the offices are obviously not as large and well decorated as the normal Vet it was easy enough to make an appointment, if you can call it that. All it took was walking in and filling out a small form. I brought all his records and the Vet looked them over and gave him his shots (Bordetella, the DHLPP combo shot, and a rabies shot) he also made a point to clean out his ears and I left with a three month supply of Revolution which fights off ticks/fleas and heart worm. The Vet and his workers were friendly, knowledgeable, helpful, and convenient all things that made the experience easier both for me and likely for Finn too.

The prices of the vaccines were lower than at the vet, despite them being the same things. The Revolution was even the same price as it is at the discount online places. He also put on two pounds since the last time he was at the Vet, not a lot but then again the last visit was only 12 days ago.

For being such a good pup and getting all his shots like a champ Finn was awarded a single pink octopus chew toy. He loves it, pictures later.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Finn 1, Flower pot 0

Well the anti-dig spray officially does not work for Finn. Some nice daisies that were potted only a few days ago were ripped from their peaceful home next to the front door and scattered about the lawn. As I was away at the time I didn't scold him for pulling on the potted plant but I did make it clear to him that the stuff he was eating when I caught him (the orange pedals or the Gerber daisy) was NOT to be considered either his food or a toy. Of course staying mad at the little munchkin is difficult, what with those big puppy dog eyes and all.

The rest of the day he was great though. He set a new long walk record. Coupled with the fact that he didn't stop to sit anywhere, and having just signed him and us up for a weekly group training class, it seems things are looking good for him as a running partner and more.

Above is him chilling between the couches, enjoying a afternoon siesta on the cool concrete.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Finn and the shower

Finn had his first shower yesterday, partly in an attempt to clean him and partly to see how he does when sprayed with water. I must admit though it didn't seem like he really enjoyed it. Oh sure he has some fine shampoo (which smells of cherries) and the water was the perfect temperature, but the fact that he can not get any footing on the tile made him not to fond of the whole thing. He didn't run out of there, but he wanted to.

As soon as he was out though he gave what might have been the best drying off shake I have ever had the pleasure of witnessing. Water was flying everywhere, luckily I had prepared a towel for the occasion and was able to block most of it from hitting too many important things (ie. me).

When it was all over I took him back outside where he instantly decided to roll around in the part of the grass he has already dug. Then he finished the drying process by rolling all over his couch (that's him still wet in the picture) which succeeded in dirtying the couch more and ensuring that he stays dusty for another few days. The whole experience wasn't that bad but next time he'll likely be taken to Petco for his grooming.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Finn and his Madre

I spoke with Finnegan this morning and he wanted me to wish a one Ms. Julia B. a wonderful birthday.

Finn and his ball

Just a few pictures of finn playing with his toys. Because he is just so adorable.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Finn's Training

I fed Finn this morning with a training session after reading an interesting quote:

Use mealtime as a training opportunity - hand feed your dog and praise, praise, praise!!! Practice what your dog knows and alter it with play. Each time your dog is free fed it is a missed opportunity to train your dog.
This sure seems like a valid idea so what the heck. A formal trainer might be in the works but it looks like he needs all his vaccines and to be neutered before a good deal of them will take him. I found a good list of local trainers here though.

Also since he needs to be vaccinated and neutered I found the California Department of Animal Care site with links to low cost neutering and vaccinations. The difference in price for a neuter procedure is $10 through the Dept. of Animal Care compared to $200-$250 from the Vet's office.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Pictures of play

So the pooch has officially gone back to his roots and decided to dig a hole. It was just a modest little ditch barely large enough to bury a small bone but alas he didn't put one in there. Had he, and had he then covered it up and re-sodded the area this would not have been a problem. To fight off these urges of his we sprayed down the area with some anti-dig stuff and trying to keep him well supplied with new toys. The toys are great as they keep him from digging, and they make him look so cute.

At the Vet

Finn's first trip to the vet was a massive success. He was great in the car and the office despite the presence of at least 10 other dogs. Although he did pull on the leash a few times he never barked at the other dogs and could not have cared less about the one cat who was there.

Our Vet was Dr. Vicki Torrens at The Brentwood Pet Clinic. She was a polite woman who was great at answering questions and made the entire experience a rather enjoyable one. Dr. Torrens cleared Finn's health and went over a variety of things that he will need in the future.

First, since the breeder opted not to get him vaccinated for it, I went ahead and got him his first of two rounds of vaccinations for Kennel Cough (Bordetella injection). Mostly this is spread from places with heavy pet populations (Dog parks, kennels, etc) and the vaccination is required for some kennels and travel. To err on the side of caution I decided Finn should get it. The vaccination was inhaled nasally which necessitated my holding Finn down while the Vet made him sniff from a little bottle, which was less of a production then it would seem.

Finn also had a weigh-in, tipping the scales at an impressive 32 lbs. which is just right for a 3.5 month old golden.

Other notes from this trip:
At 16 weeks will need:
Rabies vaccine
3rd DHLPP booster
Revolution vaccine, for heartworm/fleas/ticks.

All of these can be done at the vet or at any of the local pet shops who do weekly vaccinations.

At 6 Months:
He can be neutered ($200-250 weight sensitive) at the office or at one of local places that does them (pet shops, humane society)
Also during the neutering is the best time to put in a microchip ($75) because the dog will already be under anesthesia.
Dr. Torrens suggested Finn have an X-ray done for hip dysplasia. From wikipedia:

The classic diagnostic technique is with appropriate x-Rays and hip scoring tests. These should be done at an appropriate age, and perhaps repeated at adulthood - if done too young they will not show anything. Since the condition is to a large degree inherited, the hip scores of parents should be professionally checked before buying a pup, and the hip scores of dogs should be checked before relying upon them for breeding. Despite the fact that the condition is inherited, it can occasionally arise even to animals with impeccable hip scored parents.

In diagnosing suspected dysplasia, the x-ray to evaluate the internal state of the joints, is usually combined with a study of the animal and how it moves, to confirm whether its quality of life is being affected. Evidence of lameness or abnormal hip or spine use, difficulty or reduced movement when running or navigating steps, are all evidence of a problem. Both aspects have to be taken into account since there can be serious pain with little X-ray evidence.

It is also common to X-ray the spine and legs, as well as the hips, where dysplasia is suspected, since soft tissues can be affected by the extra strain of a dysplastic hip, or there may be other undetected factors such as neurological issues (eg nerve damage) involved.

His parents dboth had great hips so hoepfully he will get lucky and not have problems with it.

The vet also said his peeing like a girl (yeah he squats) is not unusual to see in puppies and he will likely grow out of it. All in all it seems Finn is as healthy as he is beautiful and for that I am very thankful.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Festive Finn

Although we didn't get Finn any costumes, we did manage to snap a picture of him while he was playing by the flag. He knows he's cute and just poses sometimes.

His walk this morning was longer than any to date in an attempt to make sure he is not too jumpy when we go to the vet in a little bit. After the vet Finn's also going to have the opportunity to meet another family member, his Aunt Trisha.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Finn's First Holiday

Happy 4th of July!

Unlike some dogs Finn is fine with the fireworks the neighbors were setting off last night.

Also we left him for a bit (about 4 hours) today as we went to a great bar-b-que. The idea was to see what he would do. He had free reign of the yard and we left the garage open to his crate, water, and food. When we came back he was plopped down by the couch in the garage just hanging out. If he ate/destroyed anything we have no idea what it is. There were a couple great photos of him that were very festive but they will be posted later. For now this pic will have to do.

Tomorrow is his first Vet appointment with us, I've got my fingers crossed.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Dog Walk

On Finn's walk this morning we ran into a gaggle of yippy little dogs. The Finn's response?
Sit politely while they all barked at him.
This was ideal as it seems he is almost entirely trained not to bark at other dogs, although I can take no credit for this:

The Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine agrees that the socialization period lasts up to about 12 weeks (3 months) of age. However, at 12 weeks, the puppy must continue socialization to refine its social skills. Socialization most easily occurs before the puppy is 3 months old. Any later than that and it becomes an excruciatingly difficult and time-consuming process that very few owners have the time, energy, money or patience to cope with.

So it would seem this is the doing of the breeder, which is a nice bonus.

On the leash he is very well behaved and I encourage him only to stop when I do. Keeping the stops to once or twice a walk so we're hoping he finds out what walks are for (tiring him out a bit).

Monday, July 2, 2007

To the Pet Store...

Today's trip to the pet store netted us the following:
1 Large bag of Dog food
1 Large Kennel
1 Kennel water bottle
1 training choker collar
1o pack of dog bones
1 Lixit faucet attachment
1 dog tie-up
1 portable dog bowl

Although this all ran us a small fortune (somewhere around $200) we saw this coming so it wasn't as bad. And in case it matters, buying a kennel online seems to be about $40 cheaper then in the store.

Also this Lixit seems like a great little product, just screw it onto a normally unpopular outdoor spicket and it turns into a water bottle. Anytime Finn "lix-it" a little bit of water comes out so he can always stay hydrated. All the new stuff got him quite excited so I took him on a little
walk with the training collar which seemed to work well as he stopped pulling on the leash. The heat and walk tired him out so now he's napping in his new kennel, door closed and everything. He seems to take well to the kennel and most other things so at least we can save money not buying videos and books, plus pretty much all training techniques can be found online, like here, here, and here.

The litter video.

The breeder made this video of Finn's litter for all the future owner's to enjoy!

Finn's First night

We had been looking for some time to get a dog. The idea was to get a companion dog that could join Julia and I on runs and play outdoors. Naturally the golden retriever was top choice as they are a great and beautiful dog and are bred for companionship.

After looking at a few shelter sites and filling out applications we stopped by a Petsmart to see the adoptable dogs. After realizing it could take weeks to complete the process and even longer to find "our" dog we decided to scan the classified ads. There were at least 5 ads for golden breeders but we were able to narrow it down a bit since we knew we wanted a male. A few easy calls later we had set up appointments to go meet two different breeders. As we left the first meeting we were torn. We decided to go see the second breeder just to make certain. As we left the second breeder's Jules and I knew which one was our dog. So we called back to the first home and let them know they had our dog, Finnegan.

We went back and picked up all the paperwork and discussed his habits a bit more with the breeder. He has 2 sets of his puppy shots and is D-wormed. Training wise he has started on a pee-pad and sometimes going outside although he's not fully trained yet. Also he knows how to come on command and can sit. Other than that he is a happy puppy and loves playing. It was tough to take him from his family but it had to happen, a sad goodbye and then we loaded Finn into his new carrier in the back of the car and set out. He was great in the car, all curious and eager to experience all that he can.

The first night is known to be rather tough. Finn, however, was loving everything. We showed him his new digs and got him setup in his room and showed him the yard. With enough toys we were able to corral him and keep him occupied for a few hours before trying to put him to bed.

Bed time was interesting. Although we had planned for the puppy our crate was a little small since we were anticipating a bit smaller of a puppy (not 15 weeks). Putting him in the crate seemed cruel with how small it was and how much he was whining so we decided to let him run free in his room and pick where he would sleep. Previously Finnegan had slept on a cool solid floor so he found a nice spot between our couches and curled up. We decided we needed to set a precedent so we gave him about 4-5 hours without us and after the first ten minutes he quieted down and settled in.

We were up at 5 to take him out and play with him. Yeah, it does take a lot of time to keep a puppy but I think it is going to be worth it. A quick walk and some breakfast for all parties and a nap was in order. Right now little Finnegan is curled at my feet snoring away, the epitome of whats great about being a dog owner. Later today we are going to get a Vet appointment and go buy him his cage so we can start on crate training. There will be lots more to come, including wonderful pictures, but for now this owner needs to take a nap.