Friday, September 17, 2010

Proud of my boy!

(Note: I realize it has been since June that I have posted to this blog. Needless to say, Darwin has still been very busy (as has his mom between lab work and volunteering for the humane society as well as the typical summer vacations and weddings. I do not know what my posting rate will be from now until the end of the year as I am working on my comprehensive exam for graduate school, but, starting in January of next year, I hope to a) get Darwin into agility finally, b) get his canine good citizen, and c) start posting to the blog regularly.)

Darwin, for whatever reason, started to develop a fear of strangers about a year ago that became progressively worse to the point where he would growl, woof, and try to run away from any unfamiliar person that wanted to pet him (this made taking the canine good citizen test very difficult for us). I have been trying a variety of methods to help him realize that people are not scary, and that he should have nothing to fear from them (Calming signals, trying to praise him when a Scary Thing is in sight with treats/frisbee before we go over his threshold, diverting his attention elesewhere, etc.). He is afraid enough of them he won't even take a treat when offered. He seems to be making some slow, but sure progress. He has been better at the vet lately, and I've been trying to make him "check it out" when something bothers him. He understands that he gets to play if he goes and touches the object with his nose and then is not afraid of it any longer. This doesn't work quite as well with people.

A few weeks ago, we went out of town on a trip where Darwin couldn't come with us, so we kenneled him for the first time. This kennel is also a dog day care, and they speicalize in training and breeding Karelian Bear Dogs to help teach bears to stay away from civilization (their application was also 9 pages long when I was done with it and they required him to be there 4 hours for an eval prior to acceptance), so I felt very comfortable that they could understand some of his fear behaviors. Upon returning, Darwin had gone from being afraid enough of the people he wouldn't get out of the car to loving the entire staff, and they told me he'd even go up to strangers for treats! Of course, he is fantastic with dogs, so that wasn't an issue.

To see if this was something more than a fluke (and to get Darwin into a new place and out of our daily schedule of frisbee and play), we took him to Petsmart last night and he was the best that he has been there since he was a young puppy! He remembered the trainer and went up to her, was interested in smelling all the people, and would lay down and wait in the aisles while we got crickets, checked out the critters, etc. He was so much calmer and it was just wonderful to see! That made my week. I am hoping to take him on a walk in an unfamiliar park this weekend to help boost his confidence.

He has also been showing lately a willingness to at least approach people, or calmly walk by them without fear, which has been good. I think part of this is the body language I've been working on to communicate with and calm him, and part of it is that he's learning that these threats are not real.

"Mom, you know I'm awesome!"

I'm so proud of him!

I love this dog so much and can't imagine life with any other.

-Mel, Corgi-keeper

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Back seat surfin!

For longer car rides, Darwin opts to ride in style and comfort....

Inside of his kennel box...

(And don't worry. It has cushy padding in the bottom. Only the best for my little dog).

"Ooo, what's that over there?!"

"Okay, now let's see what's over here!"

"And behind the car! No one can escape my mighty corgi radar!"

"Wow. Still a lot of highway over here... *epic corgi sigh*"

"Okay, Mom. I'm bored. Entertain me!"

-Mel, Corgi-keeper

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Road trip!

A week ago, the husband and I decided we needed to go out into the woods on a picnic, so we loaded up the dog in the car along with some food, drinks, and the ever-important frisbee. This week will present highlights from the trip.

Darwin in the car as we turned off onto a dirt road. He gets really excited when we arrive on dirt roads and starts doing his cardi singing and appearing as a head and two paws over the back seat as in the example below:

Along the way, we passed some bighorn sheep on the side of the road. Darwin gave them quite the talking to!

Then we drove on, past a rickety suspended bridge and through the woods, until at last we found a campsite where we decided to picnic. Which will be the subject of tomorrow's post.

-Mel, Corgi-keeper

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The weirdest positions....

Bringing one's first corgi home is certainly a learning experience. Not only was Darwin my first corgi, he was also my first puppy as a responsible adult (the last one I had at eight years old and don't really remember). I'd done four years of research into the breed, but, of course, they still manage to surprise you. One thing that amuses me is the way that corgis seem to be magnetically attracted to sleeping in the weirdest positions (usually upside-down, on their backs). Darwin, as a puppy, had the proclivity to find the most absurd spaces to sleep in. Below are a few images of his relationship with our cat's scratching post.

"Uh, oh. Where's the corgi? He was just here a minute ago..."

"Oh, there he is!"

"Mom. Why did you have to wake me with that flashy thing. Can't you tell I'm growing and need my rest? Maybe if I sleep more, my legs will grow longer!"

*Notably, the middle photo is really the only picture I have where Darwin is truly asleep, as he has become wise to the sound my camera turning on and always has to get up and check it out whenever he hears that mechanical whir of the lens opening. Being stealthy with something that has such large ears is quite the challenge.

-Mel, Corgi-keeper

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

I can haz chewable...

Back when toilet paper tubes were about as big as his head. His paws can grab them better now, but corgi legs are still not perfect tools for this sort of work (allowing for their intellect to take hold and fill in the missing paw length with nearby objects of holding).

We started his love of destroying cardboard tubes early on and this is a love that has stayed with him. (In fact, we have several bags of the things lying around and he gets to tear up one or two every day or so). He doesn't eat the cardboard, though. These things were made purely for the shredding into itty bitty pieces and distributing to the four corners of the apartment, so Mom's weekly cleaning job is made that much more difficult.

But he is worth it. :)

-Mel, Corgi-keeper

Monday, May 10, 2010

Sunshine boy!

When we first brought Darwin home, he was afraid to cross the threshold into our apartment as it was an entirely new place (In fact, he was nervous enough, he had an accident in our doorway). However, he soon realized that this was our home, and also his new home, and turned into the smiley self he has been since then.

I swear, some days this smile is what gets me through the day.

He is definitely one of the happiest dogs I've ever met!

-Mel, Corgi-keeper

Sunday, May 9, 2010

A year ago today...

A year ago today, we went to look at some Cardigan welsh corgi puppies because I was feeling empty without a dog....

A year ago today, we made the decision that we would be bringing one of said puppies home with us...

A year ago today, the little cream puppy, the last of his litter at the breeder's, was named Darwin...

A year ago today, I found my heartbeat in a set of four stubby legs, a tail, some very large ears, and all the furry goodness in between.

We did not pick him up for a week, however, so for the next seven days you will be treated to baby!Darwin.

-Mel, Corgi-keeper