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Our Life With the Hellhound: Month Two

Sleepy Ears

Our little hellhound is growing up fast (we weighed her on July 16th, and she was 44 pounds)! Little Kora is fast moving into puppy adolescence. We failed to mention it last time, but one of the funniest things about her is that you can tell how sleepy she is by the position of her ears. If they’re laid back, she’s not really awake yet, but if they’re forward and perky, she’s awake.

A good friend of mine has two adult dogs. When I told her we were getting a puppy, she told me that we needed to know that puppies lose their teeth–no one had mentioned this when her oldest was a puppy, and when his puppy teeth started falling out, she freaked. I’m very glad now for the warning, because it is a bit of a shock when you look down and there’s a puppy tooth on the floor with a very bewildered puppy looking down at it. Kora has been shedding her tiny puppy teeth and getting much sturdier-looking big-girl teeth this month. She’s lost about five in front of us…which makes me wonder where the other ones went. I’m grateful that she likes chewing on ice cubes and her washable fabric play mat.

[ad#longpost]Now that she’s had all her puppy shots, Kora is getting to go out and see more of the world. She’s getting to know the walking route down our cul-de-sac very well now, and she enjoys her weekly trip to our outdoor farmers’ market on Tuesdays. But she’s been even more excited about doggie day care at our local doggy day care establishment. We took her for her “temperament test” one day– they require that all dogs do this to see if they get along well with others and where they fit in the pack (for example, we met a large dog there who prefers to be with little dogs, so that’s where she hangs out). Our timing was fortunate, because the very next day, my car broke down an hour from home and Widge had to leave town for a meeting earlier than he had intended, so Kora got two days of doggie day care in a row. She was so tired from all the playing when she got home. She actually went into her crate unprompted, plopped down on her bed, and fell asleep right away. They segregate the big and little dogs– Kora’s still in the little group for now, and there are indoor and outdoor play areas for them so they can go in and out as they please. And much to my delight, they have webcams set up so you can get a glimpse of your dog playing during the day. It’s great socialization for her, and she has a great time there, so we’re very happy to have that as an option.

Accident Record

She is now fully bell-trained–meaning she hits the bells on the door when she needs to go out to use the grassy facilities. Which is a very good thing, because a large part of this month has been about…um…poo. A few weeks ago, it was clear that something was upsetting our hellhound’s little system. As she hadn’t munched on that many souls (to our knowledge), we figured it must be one of the treats we were giving her. So we cut out treats little by little, starting with the ones we had most recently introduced, and finally cut out all treats so that poor Kora was only getting kibble as a reward as well as for food. The problem still didn’t get better, and after a day when it seemed to actually distress her a bit (before then, she hadn’t seemed bothered at all), we took her to the vet, who gave us some prescription food to try and did a few tests to make sure it wasn’t something more serious.

Tests came back clean, and when Kora got her first taste of the new “bland” canned food, Widge knew that it must be laced with crack. Our puppy had turned into a canned food addict in a manner of seconds. She wolfed it down like we’d never fed her before ever, then sniffed around for more frantically. The sniffing sounded suspiciously like “C’mon, man–I’m hurting here. I just need one more hit!” So after a few days of the Crack Food, it was clear that the specialized healthy food we’d been giving her had proved to be a little too rich for her system. The vet recommended some other good options, and now she’s back on treats, off the crack, and on kibble that seems to be treating her system a lot better. Widge has become a master Kongsicle chef. His frozen creations are often laden with hidden treats or capped with a bit of peanut butter for maximum time spent extricating the food inside, and he rightfully takes great pride in his work.

Recovering from a binge
Kora crashed out after yet another binge on the crack-laced puppy food

It would be very remiss of us not to mention our fabulous vets. Kora’s foster family had taken her to Village Vets of Decatur before we got her for her puppy shots and spaying and such, and so for our first vet visit with her, we took her back there because it seemed easiest and we trusted her foster parents to have a good vet. We loved them, and Kora seemed very comfortable there, but it’s very far from our home–about an hour with the city traffic. So we asked the vet who saw her for that visit if she could recommend a vet in our neighborhood, and she did. The next round of shots, we visited the closer vet and were not impressed. The facility was dirty–Kora came back covered in other animals’ fur just from sitting on the floor, and the vet we saw (not the specific one who was recommended to us) was very vague in her answers to our questions. Plus when giving Kora a huge biscuit treat, they neglected to break it up and Kora–never shy about food–swallowed it whole. We could feel the large thing going down her throat and we’re just glad she could actually get it swallowed. Kora seemed much less at ease there as well, so it’s been back to the Village Vets ever since–they’re definitely worth the drive for us.

And now for an update on What We’ve Learned So Far:


Dr. Dunbar’s methods have been serving us well–Kora is so food-crazy that the reward-based training is working well for us. She’s gotten a bit more vocal in the past couple of weeks, so we’ll need to start working on barking and shushing soon. And yay–she’s stopped trying to jump on the couch. When she’s trained enough to understand, we want to get a special blanket that’s just hers and teach her that she’s allowed on places like the couch only if her blanket is there. For now, though, we feel like we’ve won a big battle of wills. She still wants to pick up every little leaf and stick in the yard and on walks, but she’s gotten slightly better at her “leave it” command. We’ve also been working on boundary training–she is trained to sit at a specific location, like at the front door, or even more important, at the boundary between yard and busy street. We’re also working on greeting people with a sit rather than a jump, which she’s always been pretty good at, but still needs more work on. Usually she’s so excited to see another living human being she sits and then crouches even lower than that, but sometimes in “crazy puppy” mode she can be a bit jumpy.


Playing with the Jug

New favorite feeding toy is the Busy Buddy Jug–you put treats in it and the dog has to manipulate the rope and ball to get them out. The first time I tried it out, she would work at it for a bit, then bark when nothing happened, as if to ask the jug, “Why won’t you just give it to me?” However, she quickly perfected her technique and now she loves it. She usually gets her first breakfast from it, and will sit next to it in the morning waiting for me to fill it and give it to her.

This company also makes Squirrel Dudes, which are like Kongs, but they have tiny teeth towards the bottom opening to make it slightly more challenging to get food and treats out. They’re great for a plain kibble meal, although putting other larger treats in them leaves Kora uninterested. Generally we have to, eventually, fish in and help her out. But you’ve never seen something give you attention like a puppy who is grateful for the use of your thumbs.

We had to shelve Kora’s big rope toy for now–it’s over an inch in diameter, and since she’s teething, it just wasn’t working well (and getting bloody sometimes in the process.) But she loves her rope toys, so we found a teething-friendly substitute: the Kong Bone with Rope. She loooves it. It’s a good tug toy and she can fling it around by herself (and does–so best stand clear).


Old Bed

Kora’s fake fleece pet store puppy bed was fine for a very short while. She liked pawing at it and gnawing on it, and every time we went near her crate, we would have to remove big chunks of fluff. It seemed like she wasn’t actually eating it, so we weren’t horribly concerned (although after a scooping trip just after the bed was retired, I must say we were wrong). Finally, the threadbare fleecy bit gave way, and there were bits of foam everywhere. It was time to find a new bed. After reading a bunch of reviews of various dog beds that were “indestructible” but yet positively reviewed only because the company replaced the shredded bed, we came across a washable denim-covered bed from LL Bean that looked rather sturdy. And it has survived very well. The only mild abuse that it has suffered thus far is from the day that our devious little girl figured out how to unzip the denim covering and gnawed a bit on the nylon lining underneath. But other than a couple of prick-marks from puppy teeth, all is well, and now I make sure the zipper pull is well-ensconced in its flap. While we were waiting for the new bed to arrive, I made her a makeshift crate mat out of 2 beach towels folded inside a canvas slipcover stitched around them. It worked very well as a temporary measure, and now the canvas slipcover has become a toy.

And last, but certainly not least, Kora’s mom Niobe is still looking for a forever home–please pass the word on to anyone you may know who would like a very sweet, very large two year old Cane Corso.