1/27/07 - 2/5/07
Little Miss Kunzite’s life has been pretty eventful this week. When a puppy is this young they tend to develop quickly. So we are continuing to work on transitioning to dry food. She wasn’t eating enough dry food for my liking so I’ve been mixing some canned food in to entice her and that seems to be working. As much as I want to wean her completely to dry food I don’t want her loosing weight as a result. It’s important for puppies to get the proper nutrients and so if we need to continue with some canned mixed in for a while that’s fine with me.
Now I know I’ve said before that Kunzie is a smart girl so I decided that it would be a good idea to put her little brain to work this week. As far as I’m concerned, it’s never too early to start teaching puppies new things. So this week I started teaching Kunzie how to sit and down. I was amazed at the speed with which she caught on. I used very small pieces of chicken jerky treats that she loves. I first started working on sit with her. The best way that I have found to teach a dog to sit is to not use the word at all. I hold a small piece of food or a treat in my hand and bring it up over their nose and straight back. The puppy’s head is pointed upward sniffing the treat and as you move your hand straight back (and their head moves further back) they really don’t have much choice but to plop their little butt on the floor. The moment that happens you give the puppy tons of praise and, of course, the treat in your hand. Kunzie only needed a bit of time until she had figured all this out. After a few tries I was able to lure her in to the sit position pretty consistently. I wouldn’t say that she has learned it completely yet, but with some practice she will. We also worked on down which involves a similar method, again without using the word. First, the puppy must be in the sit position. Start by holding your hand, with a small piece of food in it, right in front of the puppy’s nose. Then, very slowly, move your hand toward the ground right in between the puppy’s feet. If the puppy follows your hand, give her the treat once her nose is touching the ground. This treat will let the puppy know she’s on the right track. Quickly place another treat in your hand and continue to lure the puppy until she lies down and give her lots of praise and the treat. This stage of the process can require a lot of patience from the trainer and the puppy while she figures out what she’s supposed to do. I used this method with Kunzie and after a little while she had it figured out. Throughout the week I would take 5 minutes out during the day to practice these positions with her; still not using the word at all. I have found that it is easier for a puppy (or an adult dog) that is learning something new to first learn what you want and then learn the word that is connected with that action. This way they only have to learn one new thing at a time and the process goes more quickly.
Kunzie has been doing a lot more chewing this week. She tries to chew on everything; my socks, my hands, and the furniture in her room. It is so easy, when puppies are young, to allow them to continue chewing on inappropriate objects. However, if they continue, they grow in do adult dogs that can do a lot of damage to furniture, carpets, windowsills etc. So I decided it was time for Kunzie to start learning what things are appropriate for her to chew on and what aren’t. I noticed that the things I caught her chewing on the most were hard objects so I simply offered her things like hard rubber toy rings and Nylabones. I have made sure that she has access to lots of them in her little play area to choose from. If I catch her chewing on something inappropriate I simply direct her attention to one of her toys. Kunzie is definitely catching on. Toward the end of the week all I had to do was hand her a Nylabone and she’d take it over to her bed and happily chew on it. It is very important to me to prevent Kunzie from developing bad habits because I want her to find a loving adoptive home easily.
Kunzite had her first vaccination this week. It was a bit nerve-wracking for me because there are a small percentage of animals that have reactions to vaccinations. I was really hoping that Kunzie wasn’t one of them. She had her shot Saturday and didn’t even flinch. Kunzie seemed completely unaffected by the vaccination and played and romped normally all day long.
I’m going out of town next week so Kunzie will be staying with Danielle, a friend of mine who works at the sanctuary. Danielle also has a lot of experience taking care of puppies so I know Kunzie will be in great hands. This will also be a great opportunity for Kunzie to spend time with different people in a new environment. It is so important for young puppies to experience new people and places. Kunzie is such a good natured pup that I’m confident she’ll adjust easily and have a wonderful time. Danielle will continue to work with Kunzite on what she has been learning and is also going to start working on some other things with her as well.
This experience, along with the other things Kunzie and I are working on, will also help to get her ready for an adoptive home. While it will be hard to give her up, seeing Kunzie go to a loving forever home will be very rewarding. Kunzie is a smart, sweet, adorable dog who needs someone who can give her lots of time and attention. It is so wonderful to see any of the dogs that I work with go to their very own family.
I am going to be moving out of state soon and if all goes well with Kunzie’s visit to Danielle’s (which I’m sure it will) she will be taking over Kunzie’s foster care. I think this transition will be a bigger one for me than it will be for Kunzite. As a young pup she should be able to adjust to her new living situation quite quickly. It will be difficult for me to part with her but it makes it much easier knowing that Danielle will be caring for her. I plan on keeping in touch with Danielle to see how she is doing and am excited to see how she will grow and change once I’m gone. The most valuable thing I’ve learned about fostering animals is the reward that I find in working with them and passing them along either to another foster home or to an adopter. While I could find reasons to keep all of the animals that I have fostered, or grown attached to, I have to think about what is best for them and what is best for me and the animals that I have. I also think that if I kept every animal I fostered then I would not have any room to continue to foster and help other animals. I have found it to be extremely rewarding to work with a dog and see them go on to find a wonderful loving home. In most cases I am fortunate to keep in touch with the family and get regular updates on how the dog is doing.
I'll miss sweet Little Miss Kunzie but I know she will still be receiving all the love and care that she needs to learn and grow.