More children

Today the neighbour (same yard, different house) had two women and their (7?) year olds in the yard when Syn, Stitch, Spider, and I came out our front door to go on our daily run. The people were hidden by several trucks and cars and I didn't know they were there until after we'd done a wonderful exit - sits in the front hall, stays while the door opened, dogs moved from the hall to the front step on invitation by name and then all three sat again facing the house. So far so good.

After that it could have gone All Wrong. As soon as I stepped onto the front walk, Syn and Spider went spinning off around the trucks and I heard squealing and yelling, and then a large man-Schnauzery yelp. Coming around the corner I see two moms, each with a kid in arms with their legs wrapped around their moms' waists. Syn is looking a little bewildered and Spider is hiding behind one of the moms. One of the feral cats is stalking grandly away from the scene.

Turns out that Spider and Syn were both very happy to see the people - apparently being in the yard is OK when being in the house wasn't. Spider went barrelling up to the kids, who jumped up to safety. Thwarted in his desire to tell everybody how much he loved them, Spider accidentally ran over the cat, who let him know the correct protocol (resulting in the manly yelp) for talking to wild cats.

So no one was hurt (except maybe a stripe of Spider's nose). Lucky. My fault completely. It is NEVER OK to let a 46 pound dog, whether cheerful or not, land on unsuspecting people and I'll be much more careful in future.

After I got the dogs out of the yard, I remembered what I wrote a couple of days ago - Spider doesn't eat random stuff! I KNEW I shouldn't have said anything. Now he eats EVERYTHING. Sticks. Pinecones. The TV remote. A fence post. Remember that deer pelvis he was ignoring last week? Today he found the other femur and he was smarter this time. I had to give Syn and Stitch each three treats before Spider decided to join us for his share. So we went on our way and... cattail stalks. Tree branches. Innocent little tree sprouts. He went over half a kilometre with a dirt clod in his mouth. Sigh.


On the run this morning, we went by about 20 feet from the llamas in the pasture. He was going to ignore them, but they drifted closer and he drifted through the fence and started for them. There was no barking this time - his barking seems to be mostly a response to surprise so far - and he came right away when I called him. I also noticed that Darkwing Duck, who has a lot of experience guarding sheep from marauding dogs, didn't bother standing between "his" herd and the fence today, so while Spider's getting used to llamas, Duck is getting used to Spider. This is good news on both fronts - an adult Giant Schnauzer could kill a llama without a great deal of difficulty, and I know a teenage llama who killed an adult Great Pyrenees. Life will be better if they're friends, especially since I plan on having Code pulling me in a sulky while Spider pulls my grandsons in another one.

One of Ron's colleagues came by this afternoon for a chat, and brought his wife and two kids to meet llamas and dogs (this happens quite a lot, but it was Spider's first meeting of strangers in his parlour).

The kids - 5 and (9?) - were very well-behaved. I brought Syn in first to do her tricks, then put her out and brought in Spider to be petted and admired. And they wanted to meet the "baby". So I put Stitch back out and brought in Monstero. Looking back, I should have left Stitch in the room to let Spider know everything was proceeding normally.

He was Not Impressed with people in his house. At least his front end wasn't. His back end stayed thrilled. Not scary at all - a 45-pound large black dog leaping at you for hugs and kisses with his back end while his front end uses the Man Voice to tell you to get the heck out of his house. Of course *I* could see his tail, but they couldn't, and I'm not about to let any puppy no matter how small leap on people, let alone children, so I dragged him over to a chair, sat down and shoved a bit of wiener in his mouth in between barks. That caused some consternation as he tried to decide between wiener! people! wiener! people! After a few seconds he was able to sit and calm down to a burf between wieners. Another few seconds and his inner Giant Schnauzer gave up and sat making eye contact with me and ignoring the people. After that he did some nice downs and I finally took him out of the room.

Not a bad session altogether, but I can do better. Next time I'll let him watch the people come in, feeding him for looking at them so he doesn't have the surprise to goose his bark into operation. I'll have to set this up with a known adult so they can say hello and give him some treats before I ask him to settle down on the floor at my feet.

New park

Today we spent several hours in a new park. We meant to be alone, but there was an entire classroom of motherly-abled kids there, having lunch and playing on the equipment.

Spider really wanted to talk to the kids but I didn't feel like wrestling with him and trying to control the kids at the same time so I explained that he liked kids so much that he wanted to jump on them, knock them down, and kiss them all over their faces. Kids were VERY respectful and didn't try to approach, which gave us lots of opportunity to wander around near the group. Spider got a pretty good body-wave going (it's not enough to wag his tail when there are kids around) but did an excellent job of maintaining his loose leash. He's got a good handle on the idea that when he feels the leash start to tighten, he should turn back to me to get a treat. I need to teach him other things about those situations, but if that's all he ever knew about them, that would be GREAT. Most of the time he's not HITTING the end of the leash, he's just being drawn inexorably away from me until he feels it.

There was one kid in a wheelchair who let out a scream every minute or two. The screaming and the wheelchair not only didn't bother Spider, they didn't even register as unusual. Kids running toward him (not close) and then running away was unusual, but looked fun, not scary.

One of things I want him to know is that he can look at interesting things and still keep the leash loose, so I started clicking and rewarding him when he was looking at the kids.

Since he's doing so well with the leash, I did some work on not shoving a treat in his face every time he looked at me. That was a little annoying and he barked at me a couple of times, but he soon realized that he could wander around sniffing things, eating twigs and fallen leaves, and searching for remnants of kid lunches.

We explored the playground equipment. It's an interesting park with spinny things and swingy things and balance things - perfect for parkour. We'll be back with our new iPad tripod! In the meantime, he walked or jumped or climbed on or under each piece of equipment. Nothing bothers this puppy. He's brave and interested and sensible.

Finally we were trained out so Barb and I sat down to chat. An owl flew over about 6' over our heads. Spider watched it, and then watched a plane go over. I've never had a Portie watch planes, but most of my Giants did.

And finally something "bothered" him. While we were sitting there doing nothing, several groups of runners went by, including an entire high school class. He watched the class with interest, but when a guy on a skateboard came up over a hill, he stood up and started working on his big-boy voice. He wasn't scared, he was just telling the guy that we had assumed ownership of that section of the park and he should keep that in mind. Pup was SO funny! In mid-macho, I stuck a wiener in his face and he almost got whiplash spinning around to face me, sit, and make eye contact. Apparently machoness disappears in the face of a wiener!

And now we're home and I have to post his blasted ears back up. Thank goodness Ron got us staples to make the post so I don't have to sew them together any more!

He CAME when I called!

Wonderful run this morning - the weather is crisp and the dogs are feeling good. Spider was ranging out a bit farther from the Gator than usual and found where I had thrown the deer pelvis he found a week or so ago, and I SAID NO AND HE CAME AWAY FROM IT!! I didn't even yell, I just said NO! Gave him a bit of wiener when he came back to me, what a good puppy! And then as we were going along on the outside of the pasture fence, the llamas came over to see what was going on. He ducked through the fence into the pasture heading straight for them. I called him back and HE CAME! OK, I had to call him twice, but still. GOOD PUPPY!

We finished up a relaxed day with some dumbbell work and then stacking and stretching on the TotoPawds.

Oh - and then I finally admitted that I'm not going to be able to keep up his stripping until I get my new shoulder in March, so I shaved him. I'm hoping I can card his coat as it's growing in and end up with him in a nice hard show coat by the time his front legs and ears pull themselves together. My, big fella, what great thighs you have!

Class Graduation

I wanted a Giant! Doesn't EVERYBODY want a Giant?
Actually it's sort of astonishing how little damage he's done with his mouth, especially when you see how swollen his gums are and how big his new teeth are. And how easily he can crack cattle femurs.

Little Man's first class finished tonight. He managed to jump on a kid and scare her, and then he stomped on a little dog so he didn't get to play with her any more. Manners are an ongoing discussion. He's not a bully, he's a bull and the world is his china shop. Here are two of the behaviours he learned in class, and in moments of waiting we started working on Pocket Hand. He has a surprisingly mobile back end considering how large it is.

Also he may not have wanted to play with me last night because he has a rather large wound on the end of his tail from wagging it against the ground. That'll be tougher to bandage than his ears!