126. Home Alone

Saturday 7/15- Every day is an adventure with a puppy, changes as they grow, working on training, and all of the new experiences that they have and their reactions to them. Last week we mentioned how much she has grown, and it really is quite amazing how much bigger she is getting and how quickly it’s happening. The other thing that we’ve noticed is that some of her mom’s grayish coloring is starting to come out. Initially, Skye was completely black and brown with the rottweiler coloring. We started noticing a couple of grayish spots on her tail a few days ago, and every day that goes by she is getting more and more of those spots, now we are noticing them on her head and neck. In the end she might end up looking more like her momma dog than we anticipated! 

The grey is starting to come out on both sides of her neck

Along the line of training and new experiences, we are trying to break her habit of chewing on rocks. Yes- rocks! We have decorative rock edging around our house and she is very fond of picking one up and lying down to chew on it. That definitely is not good for her teeth and would be even worse if she ended up swallowing them, so we’re trying to play the old bait & switch game with her. First, we tried giving her a toy instead, but that didn’t quite do it. Maybe if we traded the rock for a piece of food it would work better? Today we tried a carrot—I don’t think she’s quite sure about that one!

This evening we had dinner plans with Geoff and Tracy. Earlier this year we went to the Uvita Gastro Park and got some delicious BBQ, we had a bit of an issue with the dinner and as a nice gesture they gave us a discount coupon to use on our next visit. We hadn’t been able to nail down a date to go back until now, but we would finally go back tonight.

The plan was to meet at 4:30 at our house and we’d drive together. As they were leaving their house Tracy sent a message that just said “get the shot glasses ready”. Oh no, what does that mean? When they walked in the door she was holding what was left of a bottle of Goldschlager that we have had shots from when we’ve hung out with them before. She grabbed those shot glasses and quickly poured everyone a round. Surprisingly that first one went down easily; we chatted some more, played with Skye, and then Tracy decided to line up another round of shots. This one went down even more easily, it must have something to do with that sweet cinnamon flavor. When it was time to go, Ramie put Skye in her kennel with her toys and a treat. This time we were curious to see what she does while we are gone so Ramie set up a camera in our bedroom to watch her. While we were enjoying the night, the camera kept alerting us to movement so we pulled up the live view of the camera and watched what Skye was doing. Sadly, she was whining and barking, she would not lie down and chew on her treat or go to sleep. At some point Ramie realized that every time movement is detected the light on the camera would turn on so he turned that option off hoping that now she wouldn’t be distracted by the light and she would just fall asleep.

We had a great dinner, lots of laughs, and fun time people-watching. I also just happened to meet one of Skye’s brothers. We noticed a woman with a dog hanging out talking one of the guys working at the Gastro Park, and this dog was about the size of Skye and looked so much like her. We knew that one of the brothers came here to Uvita, so I pulled up the photo from Red’s Facebook page of the puppy parents and had to go ask if this was her. Sure enough it was, but she didn’t speak English, so I told her in my best Spanish that I was just curious if this was the brother because we have the sister at home. I gave the pup a few pets, and then left them to their conversation. When it was time to head home we didn’t really know what to expect we’d find. When we walked in the door we didn't hear any barking so we were hopeful that Skye fell asleep. Ramie went in first to check on her.

Unfortunately she had an accident in her kennel and it was all over her. Oh the poor thing, we did let her out to go potty before we left but with all of her anxiety and excitement it must have just come out. She’s just a baby, we knew it was likely to happen at some point!

Well, there was no choice but to get this cleaned up so I took her toys and blanket and threw them in the washing machine and started scrubbing the floor while Ramie took the kennel outside to hose it off. Geoff and Tracy hung out for a little while to help distract Skye who just wanted to play. Once we had everything cleaned and disinfected it was time to give Skye a bath. Geoff and Tracy said their goodbyes and headed home and we gathered up Skye to give her the first bath at our house. The easiest place to give her a bath was in the shower so Ramie decided to go in with her to hold her and make it easier. Since she is nervous of all things (or so it seems) she didn’t look too thrilled with this process, but she put up with it and we were able to get her all fresh and clean again. Now it was bedtime! Surprisingly, Skye went right into her kennel without a fuss, laid down and went to sleep. Breaking her of this separation anxiety might be harder than we thought.

Tuesday 7/18- As we’ve mentioned before, we are in the Green Season here in Costa Rica which means that we always expect rain. It’s not that it always rains, it’s just that rain could roll in at any time, and this afternoon we got a pretty intense rainstorm. With it came some surprisingly cool air and over the course of the evening the temperature dropped significantly. It was actually rather refreshing and by the time we went to bed it was cool enough that we actually pulled up the comforter. Perfect sleeping weather! It kind of reminds me of fall weather back in MN, and with all of the windows open and hearing nature, it almost felt like sometimes when we used to go camping.

When I woke up it was still nice and cool, actually almost chilly. I opened up all of the doors and windows in the house to let the cool air in and then had to go check the temperature because I swear it felt like it was in the mid to low 60’s. Since I was up so early, there was no way it had started warming up for the day yet, so I’m sure it was still at the “overnight low” and the thermometer read 74*… What!? That's it!? I was actually a bit chilly last night and Ramie even snuggled up to me, which doesn't happen very often because it's just too dang warm to do that! I guess we’ve turned into freeze babies now. I will say, though, that this was the coolest that I’ve seen it here on the coast and I usually try to check the thermometer any time it feels cool-ish. By 8am you could already tell that it was warming up quickly and the rest of the day would be back to “normal”. 

We were finally able to get her a name tag- and she finds a way to grab it and chew on it.  Day 1 and it already has bite marks.
Thursday 7/20- Every morning for the last week or so Skye has been waking up between 3 and 3:30 and has refused to go back to sleep. We would take her out to go potty, then put her back in the kennel to go back to bed and she would just whimper and cry and sometimes even start barking. We tried waking her up to go out around midnight so she wouldn’t wake up having to go potty later when she wasn’t as tired any more, but she still continued to wake up around 3. Ramie will get up with her for an hour or so and then around 4:30 I would get up and let Ramie go back to bed for an hour or 2 while I prepared for my work day & started working. Fingers crossed that this puppy learns to sleep in soon!!

Izzy is still coming over just about every day and they seem to be getting along well. Izzy is even becoming more playful and will start the interaction instead of waiting for Skye to start the playing. It's fun to watch them become friends. I guess Izzy is not fond of large dogs and Ray and Wesley hope that since they are becoming friends while Skye is small that Izzy will stay comfortable with her even after Skye gets bigger, still play, and maybe help Izzy get more comfortable around other bigger dogs. 

After Izzy was picked up today we had some errands to run and we couldn't take Skye with us so she had to stay at home by herself. We only had to run out for a couple of hours max so we were hoping it wouldn’t go as poorly as it did on Saturday. When we got home and pulled into the carport we could already hear her barking and crying, we had only been gone for about an hour. Ramie went in first again to calm her down and let her out. She was all wet and there was liquid all over her kennel. It turns out that it wasn’t pee or puke, but more than likely it was just slobber (or Ramie thinks maybe tears) from being so worked up by herself. We are going to have to get her used to spending time by herself so after brainstorming we decided that tonight we would try something different for bed time. We moved her kennel from our bedroom into the living room. She never whines or barks initially when we put her in her crate at bedtime so this just might work, at least I hope it goes ok, but I don’t have a great feeling about it.

As it turns out, it didn't work at all! The minute the lights were out and we were out of sight she started crying and barking. Ramie went back into the living room to sit with her and get her to lie down which worked for a minute, but as soon as he stood up she did too and started crying again. Next he tried standing with his hand in the kennel and she laid down, after a few minutes took his hand out and slowly walked away. She started to whimper but since he was still there he was able to get her to lie down and stop by just talking to her. I think he sat in the chair in the living room for about 10 more minutes before he quietly returned to the bedroom. Ramie was in bed for just a couple minutes before Skye noticed he was gone and started the barking and crying once again. Ok, I guess this is not going to work at all, and since Ramie had to get up for a turtle walk at 1:30am we had to move the kennel back into the bedroom so we could both get some sleep. As soon as we did that, she didn't have any more issues and went right to sleep. This really doesn’t make any sense since before we brought her home she didn't live in a house with people at all, so it's not like she is used to people being around! Is it because she always had her brothers and sisters with her and now she gets lonely? We are going to have to figure this out!!

Friday 7/21- When Ramie got home around 3:30 this morning from his turtle walk he was greeted at the front door by a cute little puppy, wiggling with excitement that he was home. Yep, she was awake and so was I. I could tell he was tired and he told me that had a bucket of eggs in the car, but they would be fine for a few hours since they are packed in dirt. He was going to go back to bed for a couple of hours and he would bring the eggs down to the nursery later this morning after the sun comes up. I'm glad that he found a nest, he is two for two this week, and I hope that it’s rewarding given his sacrifice of sleep.

Ramie woke up again around 5:30, still looking very tired. He didn't waste any time and headed to the turtle nursery right away to bury the nest and fill out the forms. 

Here is a turtle that was seen by some other walkers one morning.

The view from the turtle nursery- the tide was very high and I've never seen waves come up the river like this. It was very peaceful

It didn’t take him long and he was home again by 6:30. Now it was time to grab some coffee and his computer to do some research about dog separation anxiety. He found that website after website all gave pretty much the same suggestions and he planned to start trying some of them today.

One of the suggestions was to put her in her kennel for a short period of time to start getting her used to it, then increase the time gradually as you progress. She is not afraid of her kennel and goes into it on her own during the day to just sit or get a toy she left in there. At bedtime she goes in without any problems and waits for us to come with her treat and toys. She is not frightened of her kennel at all, we really believe that she just thinks she needs to be with her people all the time. I get it, who wouldn't, we are totally awesome to be around!

One of the recommendations was to give her some type of treat that they can chew on for a while, so Ramie went to the pet food store in town to see what he could find. He came back with a couple different kinds and he let her sniff, chew, and play with one for about 5 minutes so she could figure out what it was and what to do with it. She seemed to like the treat so he told her that it was “time for bed” (the “kennel up” command that Breeze accidentally learned and then just always stuck with her, then Kota when he lived with us, and now Skye) and brought out one of the “good” treats. She stood up right away, picked up her chew treat and walked with Ramie to the kennel. She walked right in willingly, Ramie gave her the blanket and her toys, closed the door of the kennel, told her again it was time for bed time and to lie down, then he walked out closed the bedroom door behind him. He set the timer on his phone for 10 minutes to start, the first minute there were a few small whimpers but then the barks and crying started and continued for the next 9 minutes. After the 10 minutes had gone by he went back into the bedroom, let Skye know everything was ok and let her out. We did this twice today and both times had the same results. When it came time to go to bed she went right in, laid down and went to sleep without any problems, probably because she knew we were in the room with her. It’ll be interesting to see how the next few days go with kennel time. 

The sheet is back on the couch because Izzy jumps up there & sheds a lot.  That's ok, though, Skye loves to hide in her little "fort" in the corner under the sheet.

I will leave today's blog post on a positive puppy note. We have also started working with Skye on some basic commands. Over the next few weeks Ramie will rate Skye’s progress on the commands we’ve been working on with a 1-10 Scale with 1 being she doesn't get it at all and 10 being that fully understands it.

  • Sit (10) We didn't even have to teach her this, she just picked up on it on her own, of course we will continue to reinforce the word.
  • Playing Fetch (10) She knew this from the beginning, I don’t even think we had to train it. 
  • Lay Down (3) She’s just starting to get the concept.
  • Stay (2) She’s just too worried when we get too far away with the treat so she follows us even if we only take one step.
  • Up, [to stand on her hind legs] (4), This was slow to start, but she’s getting better very quickly.
  • Shake (5) sometimes forgets to stay seated.
  • Ring the Bell [to let us know she has to go outside] (5) I think she just rings it sometimes because to make it a treat machine, knowing she gets rewarded for ringing it, or to go play outside.
  • Come (5) This truly depends on what she is doing at the moment and whether she’s interested in it, she is about 50/50 on this one.
  • Off [off the furniture] (2) We just started this one.

Pura Vida!