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....

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