What a glorious January weekend we’ve had with daytime temperatures in the mid 60’s. It has been perfect for the first few days of introducing Leia to her new home, yard, and initiating housebreaking.
Leia LOVES the back yard, and she is having a romance with leaves. She sniffs them, tastes them, and chews on them. Sometimes she watches the breeze blow them across the grass. Nothing holds her attention like leaves. Makes me wonder if somehow, by osmosis, she knows how much I love trees and my own love affair with leaves. Most of my friends know how I am always picking up leaves and converting them into hand-made leaf cards. In addition, I love to photograph trees.
Leia seems to have been pre-programmed to toilet outside. She has not had an accident in the house since her arrival Friday evening, although I know it’s inevitable she will, at some time sooner than later. When I let her out of the crate, I am now encouraging her to follow me to the back door and out into the yard. I still carry her outside at night and if she’s in a state of high excitement. I use a happy voice and scurry to the door, and she runs after me. Fortunately, the door is only about 10 feet from her crate. As soon as she gets into the yard, she toilets to effusive praise from me.
I am now starting to teach her “hurry-up!” which is the toileting command I use. I say “hurry-up” repeatedly while she is toileting, and she will soon associate the phrase with relieving herself. Training dogs to a toileting command is so useful, especially with therapy dogs who can be asked to toilet before they enter their working facility.
Right now the back yard is Leia’s own little slice of heaven. It’s a delight to watch her explore her new world. She’s tried to become friends with a little dog statue sitting in my garden. She wants to chew the rose bush and is learning what thorns are. (I finally put up a pen around the bush) She’s met neighbors of all ages, from small children to seniors in their 80’s. She has investigated the generator and the railroad ties around the base of my Weeping Cherry tree. She’s tasted pinecones and sampled dirt.
And then there’s Heidi, her canine housemate. Heidi just turned eight on January 8th, so I told her she was getting a puppy for her birthday. Heidi had always lived with another dog until Hannah died, so Heidi has been the only dog the last 4 months. It was an adjustment for her, and it is obvious that she loves the company of another dog.
However, Leia is a puppy, and the dynamics are not the same. It took Heidi time to figure out what this little black “thing” was up to; it was so different than to what she was accustomed. Heidi decided very quickly, like many adult dogs with puppies, that she would set some boundaries. Leia is NOT allowed to set foot on Heidi’s bed if Heidi is lying there. And Leia is NOT allowed to borrow Heidi’s toys if Heidi is playing with them. The boundaries seem to exist only in the house. In the yard, Heidi’s whole demeanor towards Leia changes. She initiates play and is trying to teach Leia the game she used to play with Hannah. It’s marvelous free comedy entertainment.
I have lectured Heidi that she needs to help me teach Leia. Heidi is nicely trained and is very biddable, so hopefully some of that will transmit to Leia. I don’t need another dog who takes a message and gets back to me.
Meanwhile, Leia basks in the glory of the grass and fresh air in the back yard — and she usually has a leaf in her mouth.