Puppy Training Diary

Kaylee is Born | Visits to Breeder

Finally Kaylee arrived. She was born on Feb 22, 2006. Only 8 more weeks before I could bring her home. In California, beginning that year, it became illegal to let a puppy leave its litter before 8 weeks of age. Otherwise, I would only have to wait 7 weeks. I visited her as frequently as I could, but she was over 600 miles away. I knew which one she was when she was 4 weeks old. I confirmed it again when she was 6 weeks old and of course she hadn't changed by the time she was 8 weeks and ready to come home with me.

As a young puppy I watched her closely. I observed her and her littermates for hours and days. I loved the way she interacted with the other puppies. I loved the way she interacted with people. I loved the way she was so happy and secure. She never showed any signs of needing to be dominant. She showed no signs of being shy or fearful or hesitant. She was careful and not overly confident as some of the other pups were. She was extremely tolerant of the other puppies when they bit her, pummeled her, took toys away from her. She never got angry or showed any signs of intolerance even when she was yelping in pain from being bitten. She had good bounce back. When another puppy hurt her and had her pinned to the ground, as soon as she was able to get up, she just resumed playing. Another pup might get angry or run away.

She had the exact temperament I wanted. She sort of blended in with the crowd. She didn't stand out on any level. I've had my fill of assertive, out-there puppies. All my dogs had issues that I needed to work on. Most of my knowledge as a trainer and behaviorist is not from books and academics, but from personal first hand experience with my own dogs! If you read my book Help! My Dog has an Attitude, then you know all about my fearfully aggressive, dominant, un-socialized dog, Boscoe. He had all the problems you could imagine. He came with these at the age of 6 months from a shelter in Marin county just the other side of the SF bridge.

And then there was Naomi, aka Piggy, a San Francisco SPCA adoption. She was the most creative in her destructive ways. She would jump on my car in the garage and run back and forth from hood to bumper, over the top and slide down the front windshield. I couldn't figure out how my car got so scratched up until I caught her one day. Another time she dragged an entire branch from a huge tree in my back yard thru the dog door, across the garage, up a flight of stairs and into the living room where she mostly shredded it, but still large branches remained untouched. It was a day's work on her part to even get it into the house. I gave her way too much freedom too soon. Just when I thought I could trust her, she would find another way to surprise me. One day I came home and it looked like snow had fallen in the house. Everything, I mean everything was covered with white stuff. Turned out it was stuffing from the couch, all the stuffing. And the amazing thing is that all the stuffing came out of one little hole. She just kept pulling and pulling and there remained a perfectly intact stuffing-less couch with just one little hole in it. I wonder what the other dogs were doing when she was doing all these things.

I've trained and worked with enough wall flowers that I knew if given a choice, I wouldn't want either of those personalities. There's nothing wrong with those temperaments, it's just that I've been there, done that and now I want a confident but compliant, submissive dog. One that will be easy to have around other dogs.

Kaylee won't start a fight and she won't engage in one. She won't be possessive and won't have an attitude. She'll share and her preference will always be to just have fun. No social hierarchy battles. Of course, I say that about her now, but she's a dog and nature does takes it's course. By the time she is an adolescent, she'll probably be displaying all those "undesirable" traits, but then what teenager doesn't? However, once past all that maturation stuff, she'll emerge as the perfect dog. You can check back in on us in another few years to see how we're doing.

Many people say they didn't choose their puppy but their puppy chose them. I wouldn't exactly say that Kaylee chose me, but she managed in her own way to confirm to me that she was indeed the chosen one.

Trudy gave all the puppies names either based on their personality or some trait or by the color of the collar the puppy wore. Kaylee was Pinky because she wore a pink collar. I almost had a silent chant whenever I was with the puppies, "Where's Pinky? Where's Pinky?"

As I said she never really stood out in the crowd. When I entered the pen and 13 puppies descended on me, my eyes were constantly searching for her. She didn't stand out. Someone else would enter the pen and the pups would scatter dividing their attention between the different visitors, each other and every other distraction. Inevitably I would give up searching for her only to find a little puppy with a pink collar already in my lap. She did this so much that after awhile I learned it was easiest to find her if I just looked right next to me. She was always there. I don't know if she remembered me from the early visits when I held her in my arms frequently, or maybe she just liked me too.

On the day we arrived to pick her up to take her home, Trudy had switched collars. Not intentionally to confuse us, but it just happened. When all the pups came running up I saw the puppy in the pink collar and knew immediately she wasn't Kaylee. I knew the pups had grown and changed since I had seen them 2 weeks before, but I knew this puppy was not the real Pinky. But I couldn't find the real Pinky. Once again she blended in with the crowd and once again she was one who stayed at my side when many of the others scampered away to see who else came to visit.

Kaylee is Born | Visits to Breeder

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