Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Fostering Sir “Hamilton” Ivor

Hamilton, (eight weeks of age), his seven litter mates and mother were rescued from a cruelty case by our local pet rescue, “Coastal Pet Rescue”.  When the summons for foster homes was broadcast I sighed because I had a visiting 16 month young Lab for the summer and the summons stated puppies “should not go to homes with other puppies so we do not risk any cross contamination”.  Luckily, the founder of the rescue contacted me directly and thought the Lab could be beneficial to the puppy. 

Anticipating the arrival...
I geared up for an extra positive relationship as I knew that within a span of two or three days little Hamilton had been whisked away from his familiar and comfortable--no matter how cruel it was--into an unknown world with foreign experiences... transportation, unfamiliar territory, prodding, probing, poking and ultimately, separation from his mother and litter mates. 

Enter Hamilton...
Hamilton arrived in grand style via volunteer chauffeur--after initial vet treatment and de-worming--with heartworm medication, flea treatment, food, crate, puppy pads, chew toys, leash and collar.  His whimpering cries echoed the pains of being separated from his mother and litter mates within the past hour. 

After initial introductions I set out to set him up thinking and knowing “I will be his introduction to a new and different life--the next phase”.  Most dogs/puppies want to please and when placed in a position/environment where the opportunity is available they will thrive.  I love a challenge and dedicating myself to a compassionate challenge is high on the list.  Conquering or ‘giving my all’ to a compassionate challenge only adds to my growth, the action is positive introspective and extrospective often creating an external pay-it-forward attitude in others.  Yes, even with the puppies!

Hamilton’s new world...
Little Hamilton showed signs of trepidation upon meeting my visiting big black lab, ‘Charlie’.  Charlie’s owner and I exchanged some banter about Hamilton’s heretofore awareness of white coats juxtaposed to the high contrast of Charlie’s black coat, further commenting on the vast size differences.  Ebony and Ivory.

Sometime after placing Hamilton in his kennel he would still whimper..  So, I took a black cloth and draped it over the top and sides of the kennel to create a den-type feel.  He then settled down and took a nap.  He didn’t eat that day but, lapped up a bit of water.

Moving towards training goals...
Potty training is one of the first goals I think of with a new puppy/dog.  Hey, we all have to go!  In my opinion this presents a great opportunity to cross train for the collar and leash.  Just before Hamilton was introduced to his kennel, he was introduced to his collar.  Yep, just put it on and let him adjust.  Each time I took him out of his kennel I would latch the leash to the collar.  We would make our trek “outside”--the word I use every time he comes out of the kennel.  The leash would stay attached until we reached his potty area. Then there’s a new word ”pot-go” to associate with ‘his business’.  Why “pot-go”?  Any term or word will do...yet, you don’t necessarily want to employ some word or phrase the pup might hear in random conversation.  That could be disastrous!  And, Hamilton is soon to be introduced to some small people who are also potty training so, I don’t want to use the same words or word phrases I will use with them.  Made up words or phrases can work great with dogs.

All puppies want to jump, chew and nip, it’s innate.  As a custodian, I desire to teach them the appropriate way to fulfill their desires without intruding upon others or breaking their spirit.  During this puppy learning phase, when available give them an alternative.  As far as jumping up on people, I employ the push-them-back, with a stern NO and give no other attention to the action.  [Remember puppies thrive on attention.]  When dealing with the early nipping stage...always have a dog toy available and teach them that the toy is good for nipping--not your hand or the leg of the small person!  This also works for the chewing phase.  When outdoors with Hamilton in the natural environment I offer a stick which fulfills his chewing need and introduces him to the game of ‘fetch the stick’.

Stay tuned to learn of Hamilton’s introduction to the small people and how he gained the title of Sir Hamilton Ivor.

I welcome all comments, especially those sharing knowledge!

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