Friday, May 20, 2005

14kg and still growing...

Isn't he a serious-looking little chap? He's very big on this sitting down and analysing stuff carefully business - right before he attacks whatever it is he has been analysing. Seeing him next to Benson now I realise (a) how much he has grown in the last week - looking like a real dog now, and (b) how much he is going to look like Benson. Note the spiffy little bone-shaped ID tags which were a small gift from a very thoughtful client (who always makes a huge fuss of Benson whenever he comes over) on learning that we had acquired a puppy. Thanks Paul.

It has been a big couple of weeks for Harry - sorry I haven't been keeping you updated on a daily basis. He went for his second set of vaccinations, of course, and once we passed the two week mark we started to take him on proper walks with Benson. Totally unimpressed with that - clealry the whole walk thing was just a huge chore to be got out of the way in order to get back home and continue to wreak havoc. The idea was that a big walk every day would tire him out - I have yet to see any evidence of that! We also thought he would be off after Benson making his life a misery throughout the walk, but he tends to stick by us for most of it, and is getting very good at coming when he is called and walking to heel on the leash (he is off the leash for the majority of the walk, since only a small part of it is along a road). All in all, great progress.

Another huge leap for Harry was his first market and restaurant trip. We are determined that Harry is going to be a Proper French Dog, inasmuch as he will accompany us regularly to restaurants and any other activites where he can socialise with other dogs and people. For those of you not up on the French way of things, dogs are welcomed in all but the poshest restaurants in France - as are children, since French children are infinitely better behaved than their British counterparts, who are looked on with disgust and disdain by the rest of Europe as they hurtle noisly around restaurants with their parents blissfully unaware that they are ruining the meal for everyone else in the place. Of course, the French are not yet that big on the Non-Smoking section in restaurants, but you can't have everything....

So, last week we took him to Sommieres market, a very busy little market with lots of interesting food stalls, and a nice square where you can purchase fresh oysters from one stall, cheese from another, and then take your makeshift picnic to a bar where you can sit at their table and eat whilst you partake of their excellent wine. So civilised! Any other week there would be a gaggle of our friends there for Harry to fuss over, but not one in sight this week. Shame. So we move on to the restaurant, where we spend a very nervous hour or two watching him like a hawk in case he lets us down by peeing or, worse, pooing, inside. We needn't have worried - he behaves impeccably, as befits his status as a Proper French Dog.
He is tired on the trip back, and spends the entire journey asleep on the parcel shelf of the car! Won't be long before he is too big for that, methinks.

His other big event was meeting Max, the huge Beauceron owned by our great friends Jan & Alex. We were a little worried that Max, at 40kg (although only just a year old) would squash Harry (a mere 14kg), but we needn't have worried. They played together non-stop for about 5 hours, running round and round the garden and wrestling - often with Harry coming out on top (Max was being uncharecteristically gentle - he is normally the biggest klutz around!). More than once we turned to see Max flat on his back with Harry straddling him, his jaws round Max's throat!. He is going to be a right little bruiser, that one, I can see.

At least he slept all the way home, and all night afterwards, too - really must get him and Max together more often. And I cannot sign off without mention of the fantastic meal prepared by Jan (as usual!). Poached salmon and fresh asparagus with hollandaise sauce, followed by souris of marinated lamb and vegetables, and a spiffy zabaglione with Drambuie. Myam myam!

Friday, May 13, 2005

Harry at 14 weeks on his walk

Here he is - 14 weeks old and still growing. Enjoying his walks now

Sunday, May 01, 2005

A week in the life of Harry

Always ready to answer back this one. Whilst he IS getting better, he does still have his moments. This picture captures perfectly the moment right before one of Those Moments - we are about to be treated by a hissy fit of barking and lunging, rapidly to be followed by a rolling of the eyes and one of those "Who, Me?" looks as he dashes under the table and rolls on his back.

Not too much to report in the last week - mainly working, so I didn't think you would be too interested in reading about that. Highlight of last week was Harry's visit to the vet for his final round of vaccinations. He took it well, and it is certainly easier to lift a 9Kg dog on the table and restrain him than it is a 35Kg dog like Benson. The vet's opinion was that he is progressing well, good shape and weight for his age (he is already up to 10Kg, however, at the time of writing), very healthy, and very charming. Though she did make a point of asking if it was Harry who had caused all the cuts and scratches on my hands and arms. Errr.... yes, actually...

The nice thing about this second round of jabs is that we can finally take him for a walk with Benson every day. The thinking is that this will tire him out and calm him down. The theory is wrong. Actually, Harry is, for the moment, totally unimpressed with the entire walk thing. Rather than it being the highlight of his day, as it is with Benson, he clearly views this as a temporary piece of unnecessary physical activity and torture before he can get down to the serious business of playing and making everyone's life hell once we get home.

Training is proceeding slowly - it is much more difficult, we are finding, with two dogs, since Harry generally prefers to play with Benson than us. So play time and training sessions alike are often interrupted. We are going to have to shut Benson away completely if we want to get any serious training done. At this same age, Benson was getting 100% of our attention, and there were no other dogs around to distract him. I can see we are going to have to try harder with this one. Still, hopefully as he calms down, some of Benson's good habits will rub off on him, making the finer points of training that much easier - we are hoping it all balances out in the long run.

Low point of the week was when I thought I had lost Harry. Lynne was out and I had locked Benson in the salon and left Harry with free run of the kitchen, hallway and terrace. I went down to let him out to pee to find that he had destroyed the barriers I had placed on the terrace gates and escaped into the rest of the garden. Luckily, I had closed the main gates to the road, but that still left plenty of places he could have wandered off to, including over the mountain at the back of us if he felt so inclined (the mountain is part of the back garden, and there are no fences).

So I wander around and around calling him. Every so often I think I can hear him whining, but I cannot figure out where the noise is coming from. In desparation, I wander back into the house, to see that the barrier I had placed at the bottom of the stairs has also been destroyed, and Harry is at the top of the stairs, wagging away, clearly delighted to see me. He smells wonderful...very strange. Until I enter Lynne's bathroom to find her toilet bag upended on the floor, makeup, shampoo, hand cream, face cream, and various other smelly items strewn everywhere, and every one with tiny, puppy-tooth-shaped holes in them. Harry, far from being abashed or ashamed of his behaviour, remains delighted to see me, jumping up and down, sending fountains of hand cream into the air every time he lands on a punctured tube.

I carry him downstairs, reflecting on how different he is from Benson at this age. Benson was always a great respecter of barriers. They were always symbolic, and never had to be physically sound. If we placed a small pair of ladders across a staircase and told him "No", that was it for him - he would never try to get past. We lived right on a road, with no gate to the garden at that time. So I rigged up a simple bit of chicken wire across the gap, and made it clear that was the limit to his territory. To this day, Benson can sit in front of an open gate and not venture out, even if another dog passes on the other side of the road. That is his boundary - and he respects that.

For Harry, however, any barrier placed in his path is a challenge, to be studied - not for too long mind you - and defeated. To Harry, a barrier or gate means that there is undoubtedly something beyond it which is Labrador heaven. He has to have it...whatever it is. Problem is, he is usually right - as in the case of the make-up bag full of nice-smelling puppy chew toys....

As of today, all of the main terrace gates are now secured with a double layer of chicken wire (even Harry's teetch are not up to that task just yet) and the main house stairs have a child gate fitted. Wonder how long it will take him to learn how to pick the lock....