Letter to breeder – Spring update

Hi Lexi,

Time for another update.

rio up closeWith the extended winter just about done; today has been a heady twenty degrees hopefully we will able to make use of the longer days and warmer weather and get out and about more. Despite being a large dog, we have noticed that Rio needs lots of walking; I normally take him out twice a day but due to the inclement weather the walks have been shorter, especially during week. This results in having uncontrollable bouts of excitement which has often meant he’s had to be excluded from the living room as his ‘play’ is just too rough for everyone. We have worked out that any sort of play with him indoors normally gets out of hand after ten minutes or so resulting in him being dragged out to calm down. He is also still biting during play, which is unacceptable, especially as when he catches you it tends to lead to bruises and skin breaks. Still, we now know the signs he’s going to start playing up and soon take action.

Anyhow, now that Spring has arrived I have started to take him out for longer walks, even letting off to play with other dogs and go chasing rabbits which he seems to love. Unfortunately, yesterday morning we had our first incident of him running off; I let him off in a place I’ve released him many times but on this occasion he decided to go off chasing bunnies into an area not easily accessible. Three quarters of an hour later and I was starting to get worried when I couldn’t find him, only to locate him back at the spot he’d gone from in the first place. For the rest of the walk he stayed quite close to me, clearly shaken by his experience of ‘being lost’ for a while.

The garden is still out of bounds to him; his small patch of grass is now a mud bath and currently ‘electric fenced’ off. We will soon be creating a terraced area there so he will have a little more space to roam. He still continues to dig when he gets a chance on the main lawn so we have had to restrict his access to short periods only. He is quite difficult to get back off though; with even treats not tempting him away from the freedom of the lawn. He did help me with some gardening last weekend though, pulling up dead shrubs and digging the border where I was about to plant some new ones. We definitely have a dog who’s a digger!

laptopBack in March Tina decided that Rio was getting uncontrollable when visitors called; to a point where he was knocking people over in his eagerness to say hello. We have tried different things such as putting him on a lead when people arrive but it only seems to have a temporary effect and as soon as he’s free he’s jumping and biting feet. Normally he’s then excluded until he calms down or our visitors leave. Anyhow, Tina rang a local dog behaviourist and explained the problems we were having with Rio and she said it sound Rio was a ‘reluctant leader’ and she would visit to offer advice and try to help with walking, something Tina is now unable to do since he bit her arm. A week later and ‘Trish’ arrived and within five minutes he had ripped the sleeve of her top, demonstrating the challenge she faced. She offered some suggestions to counter his bad behaviour; being much firmer with him and making him know that the humans are leaders in the family. Also she suggested we make our visitors ignore Rio which will make him lose interest in him. Unfortunately this advise has been difficult to follow as Rio is difficult to ignore when he’s jumping all over you!

Follow-on sessions were arranged, including Trish saying she would bring along her dogs to help with the training but unsurprisingly Trish has failed to turn up to subsequent sessions. I think that may be her way of saying ‘ Rio is a lost cause!’. I would say that some of the stuff she said has been useful although he is still just as uncontrollable at times. Looks like we’re on our own from now on though!

So all in all, it’s not been a great time with Rio recently. He’s a lovely dog when he wants to be, but he is also still very hard work. Hopefully as the Spring turns to Summer and he moves from puppy to adult he will calm down. yeah right 🙂

Until the next update, best regards Graham (& Tina)

 

Street walking

glovesOne of the joys of owning a dog is the requirement to take them out for a walk every day. I will admit that one of the reasons that I wanted to get another dog was a selfish one; namely to ensure I got off my backside and did a couple of miles of gentle exercise each day.

At weekends and the summer months, the ability to wander across fields away from the cars and other people and enjoy the fresh air is great but of course during the winter evenings movement is restricted to street walking only, which isn’t so satisfying (hence my listening to podcasts).

The other problem with walking the streets is other people and in particular other people who have dogs; other people who jog; other people walking in the opposite direction and generally anyone using the public highway. Whilst I’m not particularly bothered by pedestrians, our eighteen month puppy is and thinks everyone wants to say hello to him. And at nearly 45kg in weight when Rio wants to go in one direction you have no choice but to follow.

As I walk along, I have to be alert to all around me, anticipating Rio’s keenness to be friendly with others by shortening his lead, crossing the road or slowing right down until he loses interest. Most of the time I can keep him in check but sometimes he suddenly surprises me with a pull across toward the oncoming person or dog. When I do see someone walking a dog I tend to steer clear or at least hold him firmly so that if the other canine owner is happy for Rio to say hello it is in a controlled manner.

Occasionally Rio would decide that he wants a rest and just sits down, with a ‘I’ve had enough for the moment’ look on his face and I have to coax him to get going again. He also enjoys the usual doggy habit of having to smell every lamp post and patch of grass where other dogs have been; those smalls must be heaven for a pooch.

But the favourite pastime by far for Rio is the detection and acquiring of single pairs of gloves. Somehow he manages to locate and recover so many individual, discarded gloves it’s untrue. And once he does find one, it’s normally then in his mouth until we get home. I believe we could open up our own one-armed glove shop judging by the number of gloves Rio has recovered during his walk.

So if you are even in need of a single glove you know where to come!

Letter to breeder…winter update

Hi Lexi,

RioIt’s been a while since my last update, where does the time go? I thought I’d let you know how Rio is getting on since my last letter as its been a few months now.

In September Rio stayed at the kennels (or pet hotel as they like to call it) when Tina and I went to Turkey for a week. We were a bit apprehensive about taking him as he was still quite young and wasn’t sure how he would get on but once I led him towards his pen he was fine although he was a bit concerned when I walked off leaving him with a pile of toys and an old top to cuddle. Still he would make lots of new friends and we would be only going for a week.

Rio and Tina on a calmer dayOn our return I duly went to collect him and when I enquired on how he had got on I was told that he had managed to get a small cut on the end of his nose. The kennels lady said he had managed to scrape his nose on some wire whilst digging in the grass area. And he had dug quite a few holes! And although she didn’t actually say it I think she wasn’t too impressed. As you can imagine Rio was extremely excited to see me and it didn’t take much to get him back into the car and home.

One thing we can say though is that staying at the kennels did upset him, with him being quite aggressive and difficult to settle back into our routine for the first week or so. We will need to put him back there again in the summer when Abby gets married so hopefully he will be better that time (maybe?).

Rio in the floodsRio’s had a couple of trips to the vets over the months for ear infections; the vet doesn’t believe its triggered by a food allergy but is not ruling it out if he gets another. I think it probably due to the times he has been paddling in the river after the floods. A dose of antibiotic ear drops seems to do the trick and so far its been clear since.

Rio’s not really calmed down when it comes to other people; we’ve had a lot of trouble with him jumping up and biting family members;. All play of course, but he is now quite a big dog and can be a handful at times. I do seem to be able to control him myself but others don’t seem to have the same control. Matt (who is six foot five inches) still cannot seem to stop Rio from attacking his feet. The family have learned to control Rio’s mad moments by getting him out of the room, although unfortunately sometime he has to be dragged! We all believe he’s one highly strung, bi-polar dog.

rio relaxingRio has shown us the sort of dog he can be though, especially later in the evenings, when he’ll sneak onto the sofa for a cuddle, but these are still on his terms and it doesn’t take much to fall back into play-mode. We have noted a pattern in behaviour. Early evening after his dinner he’s very keen to go for his walk and gets quite restless if he doesn’t go out by 7pm. On his walk he’s fine but when he gets home he thinks it’s still play time and won’t settle down then until 9pm at the earliest. And he insists that you have to play with him. Toys are put at your feet, or in your lap or he’ll bark until you have to give in and play with him. The problem is that once you start playing with him he gets quite rough and he ends up being dragged out of the room.

We had a bit of an incident in October when Tina took him to the vets for his annual jabs. On the way back Rio decided that he didn’t want to walk nicely and ended up biting Tina’s arm and drawing blood, resulting in her being put on course of antibiotics. Tina is a bit wary now of taking him out now, especially as he’s now a big, strong, powerful dog.

Rio with a prizeOne weakness we have discovered in Rio and that is with loud bangs, and in particular the fireworks that were prevalent in November and New Years Day. He was absolutely petrified of them, to the point where any bang that startles him now sends him into wild panic especially on walks where he speeds up to running pace, in the opposite direction. Hopefully, he will get used to them over time and they won’t make him freak out.

Christmas was a quiet affair, with many of the family ill so our plans to have a houseful of guests was cancelled. In some ways I wasn’t too disappointed as it would have been a challenging day, Rio wise.  We are starting to see some improvements in his behaviour, but as we keep saying he is still a puppy. How long does the puppy stage go on for again? 🙂

rio and the snowRio’s digging has re-started so I had to wire up the electric fence again; the space in the garden he has to roam around now is quite restricted but he gets plenty of walks to compensate. Rio loved the recent cold snap and found the snow a great source of fun. He particularly liked chasing snow balls and couldn’t work out where they’d gone when they landed. When the snow finally melted he was mystified as to where all the white stuff had gone.

Thats about it for now, I’ll update you again in the summer.

Regards Graham & Tina

Letter to Breeder (nearly nine months old)…

Hi Lexi,

Thought I’d update you on progress after our rather fraught mail sent to you last month.

Things seem to have calmed down a little recently and although Rio still has his mad times, we seem to be better equipped to handle his boisterousness and bad behaviour. We have used some of the techniques suggested and they seem to work; he definitely does not like to be ignored and occasionally has had to be dragged out of the room and told to calm down, which seems to do the trick. He also had the op a couple of weeks ago and whilst it hasn’t calmed him down much, he does seem more responsive to some commands.

We have had to restrict his off-lead activities as he seems to have forgotten how to recall and any opportunity to chase other dogs, cyclists and walkers and he will. At puppy classes he either refuses to move or completely ignores me and runs off to play with the other dogs in the class. Last weeks lesson was particularly bad and he just did not want to listen to anything. I have now changed the name to ‘disobedience’ classes instead. I tried the chopped sausage trick but all he was interested in was getting the treat from my hand and not doing what he was supposed to do. We will continue to take him to the classes though as one day it might all sink in.

In other news, the electric fence is now down and has been replaced with a picket fence instead. Rio has got up to his old ways whilst I’ve been erecting it and given the chance would be digging new holes in the lawn and destroying the shrubs, a forceful ‘leave it’ or ‘no’ doing the trick. The new fence will give Rio a small patch of lawn to use plus some earth to dig but we’re hopeful he will grow out of that phase soon so he can enjoy all the garden. Yeah right!

As you may have read, we have also relaid the patio, which gave Rio the perfect excuse to play in a big pile of sand, digging holes and generally having a good time. Perhaps I should have built him a sand pit?

Whilst he was being neutered, his weight was taken and he was a whopping 37kg and whilst the vets said he was a heavy dog they didn’t seem too concerned, although have asked us to take him back next month to check he hasn’t put on too much weight since his op. I have tried to cut down his food a bit, with only a small amount in the morning, but he does get a few treats during the day, which I guess doesn’t help. We have stuck to the BARF diet, now in a routine with sorting out the next days’ food, although I still have an alarm on my phone reminding me just in case I forget.

Rio is still getting things that he shouldn’t; the kitchen drawers have now had to be emptied of all contents as every time we left him alone he thought it was great fun to get them out and play. Last week Tina to him to find paint on the hallway carpet where he’d managed to get a match pot from the back of a drawer and chew it. He also loves to get bin bag liners, unravel them and drag them around the house.

Back to dog walking and one thing we have decided is that Rio must have been a litter operative in a former life; on almost every walk Rio insists on picking up a wrapper or paper bag that he finds in the street. He carries his prize for a short while then drops it, bored from having it in his mouth. I do wonder whether I would be liable for a dog littering the street? The other thing is that he yearns to go back to the vets whenever we walk him past the entrance. You would have thought after what they did to him last month he would not want to go near the place again, but as soon as you get anywhere near he pulls as much as he can.

Right must go now; I have a fence to paint and judging by Rio’s help yesterday I think he will want to do some more too (proof being the green paint on his head and back).

Best wishes for now,

Graham (and Tina)

Letter to Breeder – almost 7 months old…

Our puppy is certainly growing!

Our puppy is sneaky!

Our puppy is destructive!

Our puppy certainly has character!

It’s time for another update on how Rio is getting on. At nearly seven months old he is now really filling out and starting to get his adult coat. His tail is really feathery and has that distinctive wave of fur going down his back that retrievers tend to have. He still hasn’t developed the ruff around his collar but I don’t think it’ll be long before that grows. We have been a bit lazy in brushing him recently. One of the reasons is that Tina bought a defurminator, which Rio detests; he much prefers the normal brush but now tends to fight any sort of brushing.

He was weighed a couple of weeks ago and came in at a whopping 30kg (although I suspect he is heavier now) and Tina now finds him difficult to control when walking him and has resorted to using a halti, which Rio is not too keen on. Generally for me he is OK on the lead and the obedience classes he attends each week are helping. More of that later.

As I said earlier, Rio certainly has character. We are starting to understand his ways; he is quiet happy being left alone when you go out but only if he is given a treat such as a pig ear or a handful of dried biscuits. He has finally accepted that going upstairs is a no no, although there is the odd occasion you will hear him sniffing at the bedroom door early in the morning, but is less and less these days. He does get a bit upset when he’s left downstairs on his own during the day knowing everyone else is upstairs talking and tries to come up, but a quick reprimand and he’s on his way back down.

As you know we had a bit of an issue with him destroying the garden and it came to a head when he brought a fence panel down from the top of the garden which he’s managed to dislodge, creating a gap between our garden and the one at the back of the house. It was therefore time to extend the electric fence to include the whole of the lawn, something we didn’t really want to do, but it was getting silly and there were more holes than grass! He still has the patio and side of the house to roam around and a small patch of earth to do his business.

Rio’s walks have been getting farther and farther as he is growing up. I took him for probably his longest walk yet last weekend around the lake near where we live. He loved the freedom of exploring the woods and playing with other dogs, but he did tire towards the end so I need to restrict that walk to the odd occasion until he’s bigger. He had his first taste of the river the other day, leaning a bit too far over the river bank and went straight under. He then needed help getting out of the steep sides so I think that may stop him from trying that again. We have a couple of set routes we use which allows him to roam freely and he is getting better with recall, although I still have to be wary, especially when there are other dogs around and he thinks they want to play (even when some don’t).

Now Rio has grown his full set of teeth he is showing what he can do with them. Not only can he completely dispatch a carcass of chicken in no time at all, he can also rip a soft toy to shreds in minutes. Most days we find bits of his stuffed toys around; he doesn’t eat the stuffing but finds great enjoyment in ripping the insides out and leaving the bits all over the carpet.

Rio has also learned a new trick which is becoming a pain; he has worked out how to open the kitchen drawer where his lead is kept. Abby watched him delicately pull the drawer open with his teeth and then proceed to grab his lead and bring it to her. Subtle or what! The only problem that in the drawer is also kept his pooh bags and kitchen bin bags and on many occasions we have arrived home to find the contents of the drawer spread across the hall. I just hope he doesn’t suss out how to open the fridge door and then there will be trouble!

We are now regulars at obedience classes with Rio making up the class of ten or so dogs. It is slow progress with him, with some of the other breeds of the same age showing him up, but he is getting better each week. I am always given ‘homework’ to try to practice some of the basics such as recall, which oddly he seems to do fine when we’re at home. It’s just far too exciting to play with the other dogs during class time  but I guess that’s part of the training to learn to ignore others. He was told last week that he had done really well when we did the lesson outside, although for me it was hard work and I had a blister on my hand to prove it. I am trying to progress without the halt lead but there are occasions when he is stubborn and hard work to pull in the direction you want him to go. Still, as I said, he is getting better.

As Rio is now old enough to visit the vets for ‘the chop’ we need to try to get him booked in, although Tina is still a bit hesitant. I think it will do him good and the vets do recommend it be done too so I think it won’t be long before that is sorted.

Right, time to clear up the mess Rio has made whilst I’ve been typing this up.

Bye for now.

Graham (and Tina)

Gardening Woes

Neither Tina nor I are gardeners.

When we moved into our present house we had a blank canvas as all that was here was a fence bound square of earth. As we had a dog, Kane, our first priority was to lay some lawn so at least he didn’t tread mud into our lovely new carpets. We used a local garden centre to put down the grass and Tina’s sister advised us as to what plants to grow that would hide the stark wooden fences surrounding our new home. This worked well and over the years the garden matured and was quite easy to maintain, with the fortnightly cut of the lawn sufficient to keep it tidy. The shrubs kept the dog off the mud so he didn’t often come indoors with muddy paws.

In the early 2000’s I laid a patio down after we had the conservatory built and the garden was looking good, with a nice area to sit out when the weather was fine and patio lights to make it look cozy in the evenings.

As Kane grew older and he went on less walks the lawn took a bit of a pounding but the occasional weed and feed and regular cut kept it looking half-decent. And when Kane finally passed away four years ago, surprisingly we didn’t do much to the garden, giving the plants the occasional hard prune and keeping the weeds at bay. But at least it looked reasonably tidy.

Fast forward to 2012.

And now we have a six month old puppy…

Who chews branches…

and who digs holes…

and takes washing off the line…

and barks at next doors dogs.

How different two dogs of the same breed could be!

Unlike Kane, Rio has no respect for our garden, or anything that can be found there. He has dug holes in the lawn, ripped up shrubs that have been there for years, removed wood from fences that have been in place since it was put up, ripped holes in clothes that were quite happily drying in the winter sun.

So we had to do something about it.

Tina’s sister suggested a solution after she had issues with a dog she owned that kept escaping and getting into her neighbours garden. At first we discounted the idea but after a particularly stressful weekend where he ruined loads of clothing and would not leave the dogs next door alone, I read up about them and then I knew it was the only viable way.

And so yesterday afternoon Tina and her sister installed an electric fence around part of the garden, restricting Rio from the washing line and the fence between next door, thus preventing him from winding up their three dogs.

Apparently once a dog has touched one a couple of times they will not go near the fence and you can switch it off, just leaving the wire protecting the areas you don’t want them near.

Let’s hope so as we just want it as a deterrent and not a permanent feature.

I just hope he doesn’t start digging a tunnel to get to the other side!

Huge lump of fluff

I asked Tina to try and get some worming tablets for Rio whilst she was off this week which meant a walk with him to the vets to get him weighed to get the correct dosage. When Rio was placed on the scales he came in at a whopping 30 kilos, with the receptionist saying he was the size of a fully grown dog. Oops as he’s still a puppy! Whilst she said it wasn’t a major concern at the moment, we should be careful he doesn’t get overweight during the next few months.

When he was a puppy we knew he was going to be a big dog as he had large paws, which is apparently a sign of things to come in the size department (I assume that is the same as in humans and the size of their feet?). Yesterday at obedience training he met Sammy, a ten month old Golden Retriever, who was was only just bigger than our dog yet Rio still has four more months of growing until he’s Sammy’s age.

Fortunately we now can begin to cut down on Rio’s food intake as he starts to become an adult dog and so over coming weeks we will be reducing the amount we give him to around three percent of his body weight, which is apparently the right amount an adult dog should receive each day.

So what has Rio been eating to grow to the size he is?

Rio's food prepared by doggy soux chef's Tina and Graham

Well as you may have read in previous blogs he is on the BARF diet, which means he has raw meat and bones along with vegetables, both cooked and raw. And this all needs to be prepared like some military operation each night. I now have an alert on my phone to remind me to sort out Rio’s meals for the next day. Every couple of days we have to cook up batches of potatoes and vegetables to mix with the meat which is frozen until required. And once or twice a week I chop up raw chickens to supplement his diet with the calcium he needs to grow. Tina reckons we spend more time on Rio’s meals that we do on our own and that he eats healthier than we do, I think she may be right.

So why don’t we just wean him off raw food and on to tins of Chappie which did our old dog Kane no harm at all? Well I actually think that keeping him on the raw food diet is the right thing to do and hopefully in the long run it will keep him healthy and away from the vets.

Although judging by the challenging week he has had with Tina he may not reach his first birthday so it won’t matter anyhow!

Letter to breeder…five and a half months!

Hi Lexi,

Another update for you as it’s been nearly a month since the last one.

Rio continues to grow bigger by the week; he’s a real handful at times and when he wants to sit on your head you don’t really have much choice 🙂 He’s becoming more obedient each week, although as he’s still a puppy he still has his moments. He still cannot be trusted in certain rooms and will get anything he knows he shouldn’t have. As I sit and type this he has just brought me my glove that was drying on the radiator.

He seems to sense the things are there then makes a sly beeline for them. He also now has his adult teeth and is chewing everything he can get his paws on. We’re having to put most things we pride out of reach as he’s reaching places that previously he couldn’t get to. Yesterday Tina got home to find he’d managed to get a felt tip marker from a pot on a window ledge and proceeded to chew it leaving a lovely stain on the hall carpet. And on Monday night he decided that the wicker basket in the study was too big and he would rather chew it so it was half the size, leaving the bits down the hallway.

Last week Tina was working on stopping him from going upstairs as there have been a couple of occasions where he has come up during the night, whining and barking at the bedroom doors. A little bit of work and he’s now pretty good and stays at the bottom of the stairs looking up at you with ‘I want to come up but I won’t’ look.

Tina has been watching ‘The Dog Whisperer’ and seems to be able to use the techniques on Rio with good effect. Me, on the other hand gives up after a few failed attempts saying he just won’t do what I’m trying to get him to do. The next thing we need to work on is jumping up at people as he has just started doing that recently.

We’ve taken Rio out to some new places that are nearby. He loved being taken down the Thrapston Lakes and after some initial hesitation actually went in the lake, if only up to his ankles. He also got very muddy and I’d forgotten the mess that can make indoors when you get back home. He seems quite relaxed off the lead, but I do tend to avoid other dogs as he still thinks every other dog wants to play.

Rio’s now attended three obedience classes and although has not progressed out of the beginners lessons he has been doing really well and it shouldn’t be long before he is moved up. The only problem I have is stopping him from digging up the sand in the training area, Rio is definitely a digger!

And talking of digging, our garden is now looking like the Somme, with holes everywhere. Thankfully since the snow has been here he’s not really done much digging due to the hard ground. The snow was interesting for him; he was very wary at first but now loves it and had great fun chasing snowballs even though he couldn’t work out where they had gone when they landed on the ground.

And so to the latest video. This one was shot over recent weeks and shows him at the lakes and meeting the snow for the first time. Enjoy

Until next time, best wishes for now.

Graham (and Tina) and Rio

Letter to breeder…week 12

Hi Lexi,

Where have the days gone since my last update, it’s nearly a month now since I last wrote to you and Christmas also seems a distant memory.

Rio got through the Christmas period very well; I think it helped that I was off for the whole period so he had someone to play with all the time 🙂

We eventually managed to move the Christmas tree back into the living room on Xmas Eve but not before having to wrap a load of storage boxes up with paper and place them in front of the tree to stop him from going behind. He did manage to get behind a couple of times and only had the tree over twice!  He was pretty good at leaving the decorations alone, although there were a couple of times when we found stars and bells around the house. On Christmas Day, Rio was in his element and loved the time we all opened our prezzies; he couldn’t believe his luck with all that paper he could chew.

As Rio has got bigger we have had to remember to put things we cherish out of reach; he is now quite capable of getting items from the work top without too much effort and many a time I have come down in the morning to find some cutlery or paperwork on the floor; the latter normally unreadable and shredded. He is also a sneaky puppy; any chance of getting into somewhere he shouldn’t and he will try. The shoe cupboard, for example, is a place he loves to get into and usually emerges with a ‘prize’ for his efforts. He thinks it’s a great game to then run away with it although his favourite hiding place, behind the sofa, is now out of bounds due to his size.

We have persevered with the BARF diet; we are trying to vary what we give him to make sure it is balanced; Tina thinks Rio eats better than we do! We have found a butchers that does bones, chicken, rabbit and offal at good prices so we will start to use them more. Rio has started to fill out a bit (he was getting a rather large tummy) so we have cut down on what we feed him, especially in the morning as he was tending to leave his food anyway. He is also going off his vegetables, to the point where he manages to eat all the meat around and leave the green stuff. Typical child I suppose.

We’ve now sussed out that if we add honey or peanut butter he normally finishes it off, but we don’t want him to think he can have those flavours every time. Yes, typical child. We’ve found that buying whole chickens and then quartering them is an ideal and cheap way to feed him. He does seem to enjoy chewing the carcasses.

Since Christmas we have also started to let him off his lead down the local park; normally early mornings or later at night when there are no distractions of other dogs or people. He has done really well with his recall and normally stays fairly close. Last week he went to his first obedience class at the Oundle & District Dog Training Society. I was a bit apprehensive when I took him as I wasn’t sure how he would react to so many other dogs but he was really good; having no problems with the sit, lie down, recall and stay commands. The only one we need to work on is ‘heel’ as he does tend to pull when walked. Hopefully with lots of practice and following the instructors advice this will improve over the coming weeks.

Over the past couple of days we have given Rio a bit more ‘freedom’ in the house as we have taken the two stair gates down; the one in the kitchen was rarely used and the one guarding the stairs seemed to encourage him to get up them even more. We have resigned ourselves to the fact that he will now go upstairs, but hopefully by keeping the door shut will encourage him to not bother in future. Unfortunately last night Matt forgot to shut his bedroom door when we all went out and we came back to chewed rubbish and soft toys on the landing carpet.

We have also given up trying to keep Rio off the living room furniture; he now believes it’s his right to get up on the sofa’s whenever he wants and usually in the place you have just left. He has also got this habit of sitting on your head or body whilst trying to watch TV. I think it is an attention thing as normally there is a toy in his mouth showing a “Oh please play daddy!” kind of look.

His favourite place to sleep seems to be my study; it is normally quite warm and out of the way so I think he now thinks that is his ‘den’. As I type this, Rio is currently asleep under my legs.

As so finally to some latest video of Rio. I have put together a small movie of Rio. Enjoy.

Looking forward to reading your blog on how Seren and Maia are getting on.

Best wishes until next time.

Graham (and Tina)

Letter to breeder – week 7

Hi Lexi,

Not sent an update for a couple of weeks now, it’s been a busy time recently what with Xmas    looming etc.

Rio is growing fast!

He had his last puppy class a couple of weeks ago, learning some new commands such as ‘come’ and ‘lay down’ We’ve practiced both on and off the lead and he is getting better although he does still get distracted by the slightest of things. Still at least he is listening or sorts. His walking on the lead is getting much better too and his walks are lengthening, in fact he’s just had the furthest so far, although there was a break half way to visit my mum. He’s meeting other dogs whilst out for walks and had great fun playing with ‘Molly’ a springer spaniel in the park.

Oh no there are two Rio's!

Rio is getting used to being in the car although getting him in and and out of the car is a challenge as he cannot jump into the boot yet. I end up having to lift him in and out and with him weighing over 16kg it’s getting harder. Still it won’t be long before he’ll be able to jump in and out. We took him to the local Pets at Home store and got lots of fuss, I think the store helpers wanted us to leave him there.

We had to reevaluate the food we have been giving him as we didn’t think we’d been giving him enough bones. And so last weekend we raided the local supermarket for some cheap whole and thighs of chicken and hopefully now he’ll be getting the calcium he needs. We also have upped the about of vegetables and are trying to give him fruit as well. I tried him on banana yesterday and of the first time he didn’t clear his bowl; with the sliced banana still at the bottom. I suppose it is an acquired taste. He has his first fish meal yesterday, which did go down well. He also has had pigs kidney, although he did struggle to bite into it and I ended having to cut it into chunks for him.

He is still biting everyone and everything, although the ‘leave’ and ‘down’ commands are helping and occasionally he takes note. We have learned that when he gets really excited that’s when we put him in the kitchen to calm down and he usually then goes to sleep (not always though).

On the first weekend of December we decided to put the real Christmas tree up and decorate. He didn’t seem to bothered about it at first and we even have a photo of him asleep underneath before the netting was removed. Unfortunately it was a false hope and within two hours Matt and I were relocating the tree into the dinning room where we can shut the door, to Tina’s utter disappointment. Rio just thought we’d put up a tree full of doggy toys and he was not going to leave it alone. Never mind, there’s always next year!

As you have to do with a child as the get bigger we are starting to have to put more and more of our things out of reach of Rio or else he’ll have them. We have also had to put a stair gate up to stop him from going upstairs. Hopefully this will only be a temporary measure and he will learn that that place is out of bounds. Tina did make me laugh the other day when she sent me a picture of Rio looking at himself in the bedroom mirror wondering who the other puppy in the house was.

We have been reading your blogs and keeping up-to-date with how Maia and Seren are getting on, I do hope you get to the bottom of Seren’s lump on her head and it’s not too serious.

Next week is Christmas time and so it will be a real test to see how Rio copes with many visitors over the festive period.

I hope you all have a great Christmas and will send you an update in the New Year.

Best wishes,

Graham (and Tina)

PS I have made a calendar using some of his pictures. Here is Mr January 2012