Sunday, December 31, 2006

9 1/2 Months

Baloo is definitely entering adolescence. She is strong and beginning to assert her will. Yesterday, we hiked around South Mountain park but stopped frequently to adjust her collar. Unless it's situated high up on her head (as opposed to low on her neck where it naturally slides) I have trouble controlling her. She easily pulls me from this side to that as she sniffs at the creosote and brittlebush lining the trail. We hiked for a bit and then went off to the dog park so she could get thoroughly drained. It worked. Baloo played with a year old labrador retriever named daisy. They chased and wrestled and wore each other out.
This morning as I left for my Sunday routine outing to the Wildflower Bread Company for breakfast, I saw Baloo's back end sticking out of the compost bin. I had cleaned my kitchen cabinets of old flour and pasta - dumping it all in the compost bin, figuring the dogs wouldn't be interested. But there she was nosing through the mess. I called out to get her attention, and Baloo spun around not recognizing me at first. Then she rushed toward the fence barking, but quickly stopped when she saw it was me. There she stood looking puzzled, cocking her head to the side with her big nosed covered in flour. Got cha!

Sunday, December 03, 2006

December 3, 2006

Baloo is turning into an awesome dog. She's 8 months old and well behaved. If she gets out of line, a quick "Dog Whisperer" move is sure to get her back on track. Best of all, Jazz and Baloo are getting along. After all these months of supervised only interactions, they are finally at a place where they can be allowed to be left for hours at a time together, unsupervised. In the last couple weeks I have observed a new morning routine that they share. Jazz eats her food in the morning while Baloo waits. Once Jazz is done, Baloo moves in to finish the last few pieces (never mind that it is Nutro for Seniors). Before starting on her puppy food (Nutro for Large Breed Puppies), Baloo gallops off to the backyard to walk with Jazz. They walk around the backyard together every morning, Jazz seems to be showing Baloo the essentials of the morning patrol. Baloo walks along beside or just behind Jazz. Whatever Jazz does, Baloo does also. They have become a little pack. They still have occasional squabbles, but certainly they are beginning to enjoy each other's company and have figured out how to coexist.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Baloo Goes to the Field

I had the opportunity to take Baloo out to the field with me last week. I decided to go for it, even though there were a few extra arrangements to make. We were both excited, I wanted to see how she'd do, and she's always excited to do something new. Instead of taking my "batmobile" which is a Dodge Ram with a picture of a bat on the tailgate (I'm a wildlife biologist who specializes in bats and work for the Arizona Game and Fish Department), I made arrangements to take a Suburban so Baloo's crate could fit inside. She was quite a hit at my office as I loaded up the truck and made my final arrangements. Then we were off, heading northwest toward Seligman for our big adventure. Baloo slept soundly in her crate the whole way. Once we arrived we checked into the Stagecoach Inn and headed out to the designated meeting place. There were several other biologists there, and once we got introductions and chatting out of the way we were off to our netting locations. There were two large cattle tanks that we set our nets up at. Baloo had a blast racing around the big earthen tanks, ears streaming behind. I love that look she gets in her eyes when she's racing along like that. I expect she'll do it more and more as she gets older and begins to really run. She bounced and bounded along, hopping happily in the mud. At one point, full of glee she bounded right into the water. But the expression on her face changed instantly from glee to terror as she realized the water was a little deep and that was the first time she'd tried out her doggy paddle. With a lot of encouragement from everyone around, she paddled back to the shore. It got dark and the bats began to fly into our nets. We caught several pregnant pallid bats and quite a few Myotis bats. Baloo retired to her crate and wasn't too interested as we removed bats from nets and took their weights and measurements. We netted all night long, finishing around 6 am. Usually, bat netting is done in the first 4 or 5 hours of the night. But we wanted to see what the bat activity level was all through the night, as we were collecting information to help us make recommendations for a proposed Wind Farm that may be constructed in the area. Wind Farms provide environmentally friendly power, but there have been problems with birds and bats getting killed from flying into the blades.

After taking down our nets and chatting for a bit about the evening, we went back to Seligman and Baloo and I went to our motel to sleep for a few hours before returning to Phoenix. Again, she was on her best behavior and slept in her crate the whole way back. I think Baloo is going to be a good field dog, and will definitely be invited to go out with me again.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Hiking with Baloo

This weekend I took Baloo to South Mountain, a large mountain park on the border of Tempe where I live. Her auntie Aggie drove us on Saturday and we all hiked together. Baloo was a bit nervous about the mountain bikes that whizzed by occasionally. I think what made her most nervous was the sound. The hike was fairly short, just enough to get her acquainted with a different style of walking than our usual park walk. It made me realize just how different the sounds and activities are at the mountain park compared with our other walks. There is so much to expose a puppy to. Afterward, we went to Starbucks to have muffins and great coffee. We sat outside and Baloo was a model cafe dog. Next we took Aunt Aggie to water aerobics. Baloo and I went to PetSmart. Baloo picked out a loofa dog squeaker toy. We checked out the PetSmart Doggy Day Camp Hotel to see what the qualifications were to play for the day. I have a long trip coming up and want to find a place for Baloo to spend a day or two. After our PetSmart excursion it was time to go home and Baloo was wiped out. In fact she slept all day. A tired puppy is a beautiful thing. So far, Baloo needs only a moderate walk in the morning and play time with her pack of dog friends in the evening and she's quite set.

This morning, Baloo and I went back to South Mountain. This time we hiked a little farther. She did really well and was ready for a nap as soon as we returned home. An hour investment in the morning goes a long way for her and I both. Jazz still gets her walks first, but we went to the neighborhood park. Although she's still pretty spry at 12, it gets too hot for her by 7am in the mountain park.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

12 weeks

Baloo is now 12 weeks old and growing fast. Most people we encounter can hardly believe she is only 3 months old! Baloo had several adventures this week, including puppy shots, a trip to PetSmart, and we went to 2 cafes to practice her "hanging out" skills. She is learning to be a good lounger. As we approach week 13, she is beginning to pull on her leash. She is beginning to develop a curiosity about the world, and is getting a little bolder each day.

Baloo's favorite thing to do is go to our neighborhood park and play with the other dogs. Every night at about 7 pm a group of dogs, along with their people, gather for ball chasing, tail wagging, pouncing, tumbling fun. If it weren't for Baloo, I wouldn't have discovered that I have some really nice neighbors. The dogs are typically very well behaved and come in all sizes. Baloo is the youngest, but no longer smallest. Her favorite dog friends are Yoshi, the golden retriever, and Sagey, the heeler mix. She also loves Lola (greyhound mix), Cody (golden retriever/chow), Penny (beagle), Jocko (springer spaniel) Chloe (rottweiler), Holly (lab), Angel (pomeranian), Buster (rottweiler), Sasha (rottweiler mix), Agent (beagle), and Toby (black lab). Other drop-ins include Rocky, Bob, Mocha (all labs), and Wooly Bully (pit bull mix).

A friend loaned me the dog whisperer's audio book. I think it will come in handy as I am willing to do whatever it takes to ensure Baloo doesn't become an unruly 90 lb ridgeback. We already know the biggest key to success (which works quite well in my own life as well): Exercise! A well-exercised dog/human is a happy dog/human. When we exercise, everything else just falls into place.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

how to introduce your puppy to a reserved adult dog

Jazz officially met Baloo today, without leashes or other restraint. They have been interacting safely since Baloo came home, but always supervised, and always with one or the other under control. It has been a bit tense at times, but the long "getting aquainted" period is paying off. When bringing a new puppy home to an older, reserved dog it is important to take it slow. When Baloo first came home, we immediately went to a nearby park (neutral place) to allow the first interaction. Ideally, we would have taken the dogs to a completely neutral place (since the park "belongs" to Jazz), but it worked pretty well. Jazz was very apprehensive and growled a bit. I didn't scold her, and concentrated on remembering to breathe (my tension always sparks increased tension for her). Since bringing Baloo home 19 days ago, their interactions have been allowed to progress as it seemed appropriate (no rushing, no forcing the issue). Since Baloo is being crate trained, there have been opportunities for the two to safely interact between the wire crate. Outside in the back yard, Baloo has been walked on a leash. Jazz has progressively gotten more interested and typically investigates. I always praise her when she gives a tail wag to Baloo, but watch carefully and somewhat disinterestedly. Jazz picks up cues from me that I am not even aware of. At least I'm aware that I'm not aware, so I keep my eye contact and breathing in check knowing that if I hold my breath or make too much eye contact I can really escalate any budding tension. I can see that the less of a big deal that I make of the situation, the better. I don't put myself between the two dogs, because that might also create a situation where Jazz feels the need to assert herself. There has still been a little tension, and I know that Jazz has concerns about whether she is still top dog or not. It is important to let an alpha dog know she is still the top dog and reassure her of her position. Of course, it is also important that she know that I am the true alpha of our little pack, and if she gets out of line I let her know. But growling at the puppy doesn't cross the line, so I have to be prepared to only step in when the line is crossed. This morning I took Jazz for a walk and then fed her. While she was eating I took Baloo for a long walk to wear her out a bit. When we returned I prepared the water hose, deciding that would be my best tool if things got out of hand with the dog meeting. The meeting went pretty well. Baloo was very submissive and Jazz's actions were relatively benign. Now begins the process of supervised backyard interactions. We're making progress. The goal is to feel comfortable about them interacting, hopefully that will happen within the next 30 days.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Me and Jazz

Baloo's First Outing

Today Baloo went on a "socialization field trip" to my office. Since I work with a lot of really cool people who love animals we were welcomed. All were happy to get a puppy fix on a Friday. Baloo did very well and liked showing off her long ears and perfect ridge. Afterwards she slept for hours. Meeting new people is exciting but also tiring. Since some of my other dogs have had certain hangups, I'm taking a different approach with Baloo. I guess it's the scientist in me. Being a biologist, I can hardly help but be a data-driven sort. So we have our list of things to do to expose her to a variety of people, cats, dogs, tortoises, activities. A well-exposed dog is a well rounded joy to be with. That's the plan anyway.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Little Baloo is getting bigger. Last night and again this morning she met some new people as we walked around the neighborhood. Tomorrow she will go on a "socializing field trip" to my office where she'll meet several adults. So far she is doing great when she meets new people. Tomorrow is a big test. It will be the first time Baloo and Jazz (my 12 year old alpha dog) interact without restraint. It's time. Jazz has gotten accustomed to Baloo's presence and I don't think she'll overreact to I plan to wear Baloo out a bit before the official unrestrained introduction. Hopefully all will go well, because keeping Jazz and Baloo separate is time consuming. I don't expect them to be best buddies yet (though Baloo already idolizes Jazz from afar). Tolerance is what I'm hoping for.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

May 2006
Meet Baloo. She's probably about 17 lbs. and will be 9 weeks old tomorrow (May 15). She's a purebred rhodesian ridgeback, my first experience with the breed. But I did my homework, talked to several people who have rhodesians, and knew what I was getting into. She's almost been a part of the family for 2 weeks now, and the alpha dog in the house, Jazz, is still unconvinced that a new puppy was a good idea. We're taking it slow so everyone can get used to the idea. Baloo is a bounding, energetic hound. She loves to play, but is also very content to rest in her crate. She is very smart! She is learning to walk on a leash, and we've already been on several long walks. She has experienced many new things over the last couple weeks. She's met three cats and two tortoises. Blogging Baloo's adventures is going to be a lot of fun.