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Thursday, March 21, 2013

Living with Blazer the Razor

We have survived the first two weeks of new puppy parenting.

Twenty pounds of holistic, grain free puppy chow, two vet visits for vaccinations and de-worming, and Blazer, at 11 weeks of age,  appears right at home in his new house with his forever family. He’s grown, gained weight, and already has the fuzzy-haired look of a puppy starting to grow in adult hair.

We just wish he’d grow in his adult teeth and take on the well-known adult collie disposition of gentleness. But more about that later.

Blazer's already largely house-trained. He goes to the back door and yipes if we don't open the door fast enough. About 95 times out of 100, and those are not random numbers but more like an average for a given day, Blazer goes to the back door when he needs to "go". He also goes to the back door another 200 times a day when he wants to find sticks or leaves to chew on, birds to chase, or just hang out in the yard.

This would not seem to be a big problem, given that we have a fenced yard. However, in his many forays into the yard, with us in tow because he's so little, Blazer had been systematically testing the fences, much like the raptors in "Jurassic Park" until he found a weakness last week. We discovered he could slip under the slats in spots, even with one of us right next to him, faster than you can say "jack-rabbit".

Though it was people, talking loudly on cell phones, not rabbits that enticed Blazer to look for fun outside his own back yard. Luckily we were able to get him back before he made good his escape. And the "weak spots" now are fixed.

Having a new puppy is loads of fun. His soft fur and sweet demeanor make him a real mood elevator. And he already has demonstrated he has brains and personality. He's learned to climb all the stairs in the house, including the tall staircase to the second floor. In fact, he now shows off, by carrying a toy halfway up the stairs and dropping it, turning around and looking at us expectantly to see if we appreciate his latest accomplishment. We do. Though it does add just one additional location where puppy toys are not only a charming decorative addition but also a tripping hazard.

And despite a houseful of puppy toys designed to entice a puppy to chew on them, Blazer has taken to chewing everything else he can get his razor-sharp puppy teeth into: electrical cords, furniture, shrubs, sticks, shoes, and especially hands, to name just a few items already scarred by puppy teeth. So much so that we have nicknamed him “Blazer the Razor”.

Constant vigilance has been our motto. I’m no puppy whisperer or trainer either. But we are trying to judiciously to use the word “NO”—only for dangerous items. And the bites that hurt. The rest of the time we try to distract him.

When you do say no he seems even more determined to chew an item. I’ve “arm-chair” (though there no longer is any sitting quietly in an arm chair in our puppy-centric house) psychoanalyzed him and concluded his chewing behavior is like rebellious teenage behavior. Better to ignore the orange hair, or to name a Blazer favorite: shoe-chewing, and focus on the really dangerous things.

The good shoes are now in closets and old shoes, whether on my feet or just on the floor, I’ve decided are not worth a battle royal. When he goes away to college it’ll be someone else’s problem.

Oh wait a minute; he’s not really a human teenager who will go away to college. Maybe I better stop the chewing shoe behavior before I have no shoes left.


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