Sunday, September 13, 2015

Anica: Week Four

We're going to head out to an adoption event in a little more than an hour, so (fingers crossed!) this may be the last Anica update before she gets adopted (I HOPE I HOPE I HOPE), but here's what we have to report over the past week:

UTI is now completely resolved and antibiotics have been completed. Anica is now able to go 7 or 8 hours at a stretch without needing to potty (or, if I'm being totally honest, even 9 hours overnight, although I recognize that is less than optimal for a puppy of her age. But I've done it and she's been okay, which is a great kindness and feat of endurance on her part). It's been several days with no signs of recurrence or discomfort, so I think this problem is safely behind us.

Training is going pretty well. Due to various life/work developments over the past week, I have once again been a giant slacker failure in getting Anica as well trained as I'd like, but despite that she's coming along nicely. She walks well on leash (other than persistently trying to get at old pizza boxes and this one incredibly disgusting, partially mummified roadkilled rat which has been on the street for 3 days right next to her favorite potty spot) and has a pretty good auto-Sit when I stop, if she isn't distracted. If she is distracted then that goes out the window immediately, but she just needs more practice and rewards when she's focused; she's making excellent progress overall.

(Incidentally, brief soapbox: you know what I hate? Seeing people collar pop dogs for not Sitting when distracted, especially auto-Sits at stoplights. There's one dog walker in our neighborhood who used to do this ALL THE TIME and it drove me crazy because (a) hello, lousy training; (b) I knew that the dog's actual owner did not expect, request, or reinforce that behavior, so the dog was effectively being punished for failing to do a thing that it wasn't ordinarily asked to do; and (c) this particular dog walker was especially bad about doing that whenever she knew I was watching, I guess to show that she, too, was capable of training her dogs in public. Except not so much, and also: who does that? Collar popping somebody else's dogs to make a point to a stranger? Triple gross.)


I've also been playing various food/toy games with Anica, partly to burn off puppy energy, partly to build up motivators, partly just because it's a dumb idle thing to amuse myself. She's especially fond of the "chase" reward (as simple as it sounds: I throw a cookie along the floor so she can chase it down instead of just eating a static cookie from my hand) and the "find it" reward (also as simple as it sounds: the cookie is nominally hidden so she has to sniff it out instead of just seeing it in plain sight). Anica loves both chasing things and sniffing things, so she is very easily entertained by these games.

Here's a brief session of Sit practice. You can see that I haven't gotten that latency period down too much, due mostly to inadequate practice (but also she'd already been working for several minutes before I taped this clip, so she was getting a little tired and there was a dog barking outside the window that was a bit of a distraction). Also you can see that I'm rewarding with mini versions of "chase" -- not long throws because I didn't want this clip to be overlong, but still useful to reset her between repetitions.

I forgot to mark the last Sit with a "yes." WHOOPS.

And that is pretty much that. With luck, Anica will find a home this afternoon. But if not, that's fine. She's an easy houseguest and we're finally starting to get to the part where training is actually fun. Whee!

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Anica: Week Three

Whoops, I've gone longer than I meant to without posting an Anica update.

Partly that's because we haven't had a whole lot to update about. At the beginning of this week, Anica came down with a UTI, so she's spent most of the past few days on restrictive crate confinement until the antibiotics kicked in and she had enough bladder control to come out again. We only really got to that threshold today, so the updates for the past few days would pretty much just have been "yep, the foster dog's still living in the box."

There's not a whole lot to say about the UTI. It was a very straightforward diagnosis: Anica had been doing very well with her potty training and hadn't had any accidents in about a week. Then all of a sudden she started urinating frequently and in small amounts, and no longer had enough control to even keep from soiling her crate (which is something she had always been 100% reliable on previously), and on top of that her urine had a strong unpleasant odor that wasn't there before, so that was pretty much a textbook UTI presentation.

I put her on antibiotics and added some apple cider vinegar to her drinking water, and within about three days it cleared up. She's still on antibiotics until she finishes the full 10-day course to make sure the bugs are totally out of her system, but she's doing fine and now has full potty control again.

BUT this means that for the past week we haven't really been able to work on anything else, so Anica hasn't had a chance to progress with her formal training. I'll resume work on that shortly and continue for as long as I've got her, but no new news on that front yet.

Despite the training delay, I think Anica's about ready to start looking in earnest for a permanent home. She's decompressed enough for me to feel like I have a good sense of who she is and what kind of home environment would likely suit her, so it's time to start hocking the foster dog for real.

I took her out to an adoption event this afternoon. It was a small event, and turnout was pretty low because of the holiday weekend, but Anica still met several families who seemed to like her, and she seemed to like them in turn. I'm hopeful that at least one of them will follow up, but even if none of those prospects pans out, I now know that Anica shows well at events and is comfortable enough to behave appropriately when meeting new people, so I can't imagine it'll take long for her to find a home. She's very good at charming new friends.