Monday, March 31, 2008

The Good, The Bad and The Irish

I have talked in previous posts about Sergi's tendency to whine. I've tried several different methods to try to stop the habit, from leash corrections to spritz of vinegar and water. When nothing worked, I talked to a friend in the Puppy Program office at CCI. She has raised a whiny pup and her advice was what I was coming to suspect: Do nothing. No reaction, no acknowledgement, no response at all. Occasionally we find that even negative feedback is still reinforcement of a behavior. The silent treatment does seem to be working — slowly — and the vocalizations seem to be tapering off.

A few days ago I was sitting in one of my back bedrooms at my computer when Sergi began loudly moaning/whining. I knew he had already been out and didn't have to toilet, so there was no good reason for it. I ignored it. He got louder. I remained deaf. He became insistent and louder yet until finally I threw up my hands and said, "Fine! Let's go out!"

I walked him out to the hallway and was almost to the living room when I smelled it. I turned the corner and saw my entire living room, dining room and kitchen filled with smoke. I had failed to properly turn off a frying pan on the stove and it was charred and scorched. I can't believe my parrots weren't screaming, the burner had probably been on for more than an hour. But Sergi knew. His incessant complaints had got me out of my chair to take care of the problem. Today, my whiny boy was my hero!
(And now I have to figure out why the smoke alarm didn't go off!)

The stalwart action of my tenacious pup was a nice balance to an otherwise difficult week. Sergi continues to surprise me with the amount of energy he has. He has such a difficult time being still. We walk, we hike, we play, we socialize. It never seems quite enough — he just always seems so restless. Because he is a vigorous chewer, I try to find appropriate toys to keep his jaws challenged. Most items he plows through in just days, even those "indestructible" ones. He'll find a weak spot and work and work and work away at it until he has shredded, disassembled or eroded the thing. Chew bones and toys that my previous four dogs have enjoyed and passed down from one to the next, Sergi has destroyed.

CCI always tells us that pups really don't need anything to lie on in their crates. Still, our human sensibilities reason that it's only fair to give them some kind of blanket or bed to take away the hardness of the plastic just a tad while we sleep nearby in our soft, warm beds. All of my pups have done fine with this, and until this week, so did Sergi.

I had to leave Sergi alone for almost four hours one morning. I made sure he had toileted properly and gave him a sterilized bone to gnaw on when I put him in his crate. Inside was the dog bed he sleeps on every night. I gave him a treat and left, confident that he would be fine. When I got home, here is what I saw. He now sleeps on the plastic.

One holiday that is always celebrated at my house is St. Patrick's Day. Coming from an Irish family (my father), we always have a family dinner and do the corned beef and cabbage thing. Of course, the pups don't know which day is which, only that here is another occasion when they get to put on a colorful scarf and are made to wear goofy head things.

Sergi is glad he'll be in Advanced Training the next time St. Paddy's Day rolls around.


ann said...

Way to go Sergi.

They do such amazing work long before they ever get turned in!

did you get my email about the kinder presentation?

Anonymous said...

What a good boy! GP