Thursday, December 9, 2010

Still alive and kicking...

No, I haven't disappeared off the face of the earth...I've just been sidetracked with taking care of a puppy and other "real life" things! So, no surprise, I kept the boy puppy from the litter. He reminded me so much of his Grandpa Andy and I loved his enthusiasm, speed, and drive. The little girl, who was prettier, I thought had the better body overall, had more focus and was smarter but not quite as busy went to a great home that hopefully will let her try all kinds of fun activities. Here's my little "ugly duckling" boy child. I couldn't quite live with "Rodney" (after the guinea pig in Dr. Doolittle- see previous posts) but he came so nicely when called that I wanted to stay close, so it kind of morphed into Robbie.

Things you forget when you haven't had a puppy in a while...THOSE DARN EARS. For those of you lucky enough NOT to have ever had to fuss with sheltie ears, getting that perfect tip is a royal pain. When puppies go through teething, their ears tend to do all kinds of weird things- stand up, flop over, one of each, etc. It's a safe bet that if you want them to stand they will flop and if you want them to fold over they will go prick. So for shelties, we have a myriad of techniques for getting them to stay folded over like they should. None of which I am especially good at. And ALL of which this particular puppy objects to strongly.

If you look at his ears in these pictures, you can see they look a little odd. On this particular day, he was sporting glue...we use one called "Tear Mender" that works well (except for me). Actually this is the method I have had the most success with, which isn't saying much. You pull the ears up over his head, take a little of the fur from the edge of each ear and twist it together and put on a dab of glue to pull the ears into the correct "set", then fold the ear over and glue it down (always hair to hair, not to skin). For most puppies this will stay in for quite a while.

Robbie, however, has other ideas. He works and works until he gets the ears undone, in the process pulling out a fair amount of hair so that when you reglue you have progressively less and less to work with. At one point, it occurred to me I might end up with a dog with perfectly tipped ears who was permanently bald on top of his head from pulling all the hair out with the glue...In these pictures he is pretty close to getting the rest of the glue out totally and letting the ears fly again. But at least he has somebunny to commiserate with!

In between going back to the glue, I have tried a wide assortment of just about every method I have ever heard of. The "japanese tape" which is the latest and greatest method everyone is using, lasts about 90 seconds with him. Maybe as much as five minutes if I use ostobond too and make him wear an elizabethan collar.

In these pictures above and below with his dad Cory (who, as you can see, I did not do a stellar ear job on either!) he is wearing an ear brace made of moleskin (but not the plain Dr. Scholl's you can buy at the drugstore, oh, no! The special more expensive stuff that has to be ordered from California), and treated with ostobond. Ostobond is a glue type product used to attach things like colostomy bags to skin. That was our second product; the first, Dr. somebody-or-other's spray that was supposed to make the moleskin stick better, irritated the heck out of his ears. So we ordered the ostobond as well as the "skin prep" that is used to coat the skin first and prevent irritation (as well as the unisolve which is used to remove the glue when it needs to come out, did we mention THAT'S $20 a pop in addition to the zillions already spent?). Skin looked better but the puppy still managed to get the moleskin off; I applied it the morning of these pictures and made him wear the elizabethan collar for several hours till everything dried and he (theoretically) got used to it. He pulled out THIS brace maybe half an hour after we stopped shooting the pictures.

I also in desperation bought the little velcro circles and attached those in his ears with the ostobond, one on the tip and one deeper in the ear to attach to. The first time that actually worked pretty well- I think it stayed in for 3 or 4 days. When I tried it again he had it out in a couple of hours though. Oh well, he's now six months old, he lost has last baby tooth a few days ago and hopefully maybe his ears will settle down soon and we can stop messing with them!

In the meantime, here is his sister Saffron (above and below); she has stayed much fluffier and, at least last time I saw her, was not going through the puppy uglies as much as him. She has been going to some UKC shows and puppy matches and has a couple of UKC Best Puppy In Shows and group placements to her credit.

Oh well. At any rate, we have been hard at work trying to teach all the things puppies need to know. Somehow I seem to have less energy with each successive puppy! But he has finished his first agility class, though I think we will repeat it as he does the exercises pretty well, but still has great difficulty focusing on me if anything involving motion is going on nearby. He has made a good start on tracking, despite not having ANY fall this year- we went straight from dry hot summer to cold and snow with hardly a hesitation between. We are working on obedience exercises mostly lately; although last weekend we were supposed to go and try herding on ducks for the first time, but unfortunately the weather didn't cooperate and we had to cancel. There is SO much to learn and so many foundation exercises, and a limited amount of time and energy. Well, HE has unlimited time and energy but I do not!
He's also had his first obedience lesson with Laura Romanik, who comes down to Cincinnati a few times a year and helps us out. In this case, it was Halloween weekend at Starhaven shelties, where there is an indoor horse arena we use for lessons. Afterwards we all stayed, had homemade chili and a firepit, and long walks through the fields with the dogs- I think we had at least 15 shelties, maybe more, running loose together including several puppies and at least three intact males. One of the things I love about shelties are that they are generally amiable with other dogs. Below is Robbie playing with one of his best buddies Recess.

And here he is running with his dad; we were losing the light and my zoom lens was maxed out
so the focus wasn't good, but I still thought it was a cool sequence. Cory is far from a slow dog, but I think Robbie is going to leave him in the dust soon- at 5 mos in these pictures he's already coming close to matching him stride for stride.

Well, hopefully I will not be so negligent- I have a number of veterinary topics in mind to post about when I have both the time and the inclination, I will try and do better!

Happy Holidays to all! Remember, Santa keeps a "naughty and nice" list for puppies too! I think there are going to be lumps of coal at my house!


  1. Robbie is adorable, and I love naughty sheltie puppy boys! Love the pic with his bunny.

  2. I recently "rededicated" myself to my blog too. I feel bad that I didn't post about all the training stuff I did with Ticket when she was growing up to a super awesome agility dog :-) So, I'm trying to remember what I did with her, since I keep having people ask.

    Robbie is a cutie pie. I'm glad I don't have to fight ears anymore--Tic's aren't perfect, but they're good enough for me :-)

  3. Love your header photo!

    I just won't do ears anymore that way. I used to cry seeing the red ears afterwards. (I am a baby that way). I will glue the tips down and use some softener until they are 6 months and that is it. From then on what will be will be.

    That sable girl is just delicious!!

    Glad to see you back!

  4. So very glad to see you back! I really enjoy your writing style so I hope you can find the time to update more often.

    Robbie is a lovely little boy! I would really like to hear how the puppy tracking is going - some day when (if) I have another puppy, I am going to start tracking with it young. I think it's the perfect activity to get a puppy going with confidence and enthusiasm with minimal pressure or stress.

  5. I dont know if my comment went through, so I post it again. I used ear weight on my merle sheltie. I tried gluing them down but when they got ripped out when playing, I couldnt handle that. So I bought ear weight. You put a little glue on the inside tip of the ear and sprinkle ear weight on it. Keeps the ears tipped but they can flap free. Playing is no problem. Now if you need perfect ears for showing its not the way to go but if you just want the ears tipped, works great. It stays on for about 3 weeks , then falls off and you can reasses the ears. Diana