Walkin’ Wheels: taking it to the streets & trails

Since his broken leg in July of this year, 15-year-old Franklin has been progressing really well.  As you may recall, he broke his leg as a 4-year-old (jumping out of the back of a pickup truck in Idaho) and had to get surgery.  He has done well all of his life with a plate and 10 screws stabilizing his leg.  This past January, however, after nearly 11 years with the hardware, his body started to reject it.  The orthopedic veterinarian recommended daily antibiotics over surgery because of his age.  He did well for about 5 months with the antibiotics until one day in July when he hopped out of the back of the Subaru in the driveway and re-fractured his leg, likely partly because of the loose hardware.


First trail outing after a month of practicing in the neighborhood:  Shoreline Trail near the Natural History Museum, Salt Lake City

We purchased a Walkin’ Wheels wheelchair for Franklin on Amazon that same week, and he took off strolling from day 1.  We are now up to at least two half-mile walks per day, and sometimes have even gone over a mile.


(l to r) Watson, Charlotte, and Franklin on the Summit Park trails

Franklin’s progress is so positive and he is such a happy dog, that I’ve decided to bring some awareness to handicapped, older pets by getting him out even farther from home.  We load up the wheelchair in the Subaru and head out to the trails or the park.  We have done walks in the public park near our house, on the trails in the foothills of Salt Lake City, and even on some of the trails in Park City.  Franklin even took his wheelchair into the pond at Summit Park one hot day a few weeks ago.  I love seeing the reactions on people’s faces when they see us:  “How wonderful!” and “Look how good he’s doing!  He is so happy,” are some of the comments we have heard.


Franklin enjoying the pond at Summit Park

You can typically see us strolling 1300 S in Salt Lake City, on our daily walks in the morning and evening.  I love watching the people in their cars on the commute, turning their heads when they see us.  It’s not something you see everyday:  a dog in a wheelchair.  The parking enforcement woman even stopped her Jeep to give the dogs treats a few mornings ago.

If you see us out and about, give a honk and a wave or stop to say hello.  We’d love to chat with you about Franklin’s wheelchair and how much freedom and happiness it has brought to our lives.


Franklin (l) and Charlotte (r) on the I-Street Shoreline trail above Salt Lake City


Forever Artemis: it’s all fun & games until someone needs stitches

I was hiking with Charlotte and Watson (my neighbors’ dog and Charlotte’s best friend) the other day and saw another woman on the trail with her dog on a leash.  Charlotte and Watson were running up and down the trail, off the trail, back on the trail, chasing squirrels and generally having a good time.  I felt bad for the dog on the leash, and was thinking that the woman was probably trying to either do some training to keep the dog closer, or that the dog had done something to get in trouble and warrant being on a leash.

It was just at this point on the trail that I remembered having Artemis on the leash in that very same spot several years ago.  I felt really bad for Artemis, because Franklin was off leash and was roaming around (although he has never roamed far).  I needed to keep Artemis somewhat contained because she had a foot injury and, although I wanted to get her out and have her get some exercise, I didn’t want her to injure her foot further.


Happy dogs in the High Sierra before getting turned around to go deal with injuries (they would have rather stayed and played in the water)

The injury happened when I was visiting a friend in California, and had been hiking with his dog (Vernon) and Franklin and Artemis in the Eastern Sierra.  I really wanted it to be a great hike and a great day, but we ended up cutting it short.  First, I noticed that Vernon got a fish hook through his ear.  Then, while we were hiking up the trail, Artemis developed a limp in one of her hind feet.  I noticed drops of blood on the rocks on the trail.


Happy Artemis on the trail before her injury

“Oh, Boo Boo, what did you do?” I said to her when I caught up to her.  She had the biggest smile on her face which turned into a bit of a pout when I made her stop so that I could look at her foot.  She had a big gash near the main pad of her foot.  I decided to hike us back down to the car and take care of the dogs’ injuries.


Vernon’s fish hook was dealt with quickly enough with a pair of wire cutters.  He handled it very well.


Vernon’s fish hook

I didn’t really have anything to take care of Artemis’ injury, so I went to the general store in the tiny town where I was staying, and found some hydrogen peroxide and a sewing kit.  These items, along with the garden hose, would have to suffice.

I laid Artie down in the back yard and flushed the dirt and debris out of the cut in her foot with the hose.  Then I doused it a couple of times with hydrogen peroxide.  I rinsed it again with water (I was hoping the store would have some iodine, but I couldn’t find anything like that, and I certainly didn’t want to use rubbing alcohol because that would have been way to painful).  Then I set to work.

I threaded the sewing needle and hoped for the best.  With the first bite of skin that I took, Artemis’ head snapped up and she looked at me like, “What was that?  Something bit me!”  And I rubbed her ear and laid her head back down.  I got the needle through the next bit of skin and was able to tie off a knot.  I was only able to get one stitch through the wound, because the skin of her pad was just too tough to get the needle through.

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The gash (not bleeding) is right off the tip of my thumb and into the main pad


Gash closed up, with red sewing thread

I put some Neosporin on the wound and wrapped it up with some gauze and tape, forming a little boot to protect the wound.


Artemis:  all better!

She couldn’t go swimming for the next week (which is worse than getting stitches for a Golden Retriever!) and I kept her contained on the leash so that she wouldn’t rip the stitch out.  After a week, I clipped the stitch out of her foot and it was all healed up with no signs of infection.

Maybe it would have healed on its own without the stitch, but I always think deep cuts will heal better if you help them along a bit.  I was so amazed (but also not surprised) that Artemis tolerated me stitching up her foot without any kind of anesthesia.  Her pain tolerance was incredible and she was so trusting to let me help her in the way that I did.  I don’t know many other dogs who would let someone do that!

We Ride

I cried my eyes out the day that I found out that Franklin had broken his leg again.  I went up into the mountains with Charlotte, and although I couldn’t find the energy to run, we had a nice hike up the mountain and a good jog down.  It really did help to get out a bit, even if I cried the whole way up.  I haven’t cried much at home, because I don’t want Franklin to see me upset.  Charlotte was too busy on the trail being a puppy to realize that I was upset (which is fine with me) but I did make her stop a couple of times to give me a hug and a kiss.


Puppy trail kisses 

I’ve had a lot of support from a lot of friends, offering words of encouragement and offering to help out with the dogs.  I was afraid I might not be able to go to the one trail race that I have planned next month, but a friend offered to take both of the dogs for me for two days so that I can go.  It’s kind of a big deal, because when I finish this year, I’ll get a huge belt buckle because it’s my 5th year running this particular event (and that’s the tradition, to get the buckle after 5 finishes).  I’m looking forward to going, especially knowing that my kids will be well taken care of.

I had another friend reach out to me and got me in touch with a friend of hers who has a dog stroller.  I went over to her house Friday night and picked it up.  It is truly amazing.  We have gone for a 2-mile walk every day with it, and Charlotte does pretty well to heel alongside on the leash.  She pulls on the leash a little bit at first, but after we get warmed up (and she gets a little tired) she stops pulling.  Today we walked over to the park and while Franklin sat in the stroller in the shade, Charlotte and I worked on some leash-obedience.  It was good for her to be in the park around other people and dogs and try to behave.  She’s doing better:  jumping less and pulling less.  We have another meeting with the dog trainer (Robbin) in a few days for a refresher.


Our first stroll #weride


Charlotte checking on Franklin our first time out with the stroller

Franklin is truly happy to be out and about in the stroller.  It’s a little awkward getting him in, but once he is in, he just sits in there like the prince that he is.  We saw some neighbors and their dogs on the corner this morning on the way to the park, and everyone commented on what an adorable dog he is.

Franklin is actually walking around a little bit on his own, mostly with me helping him with a towel wrapped around his hips to support him, but also a bit on his own.  I was working on obedience with Charlotte this afternoon in the backyard and when we came inside, he was at the top of the steps watching us, wanting to come outside for a bit.  I got the towel and helped him down the steps, and we sat in the grass for a while.

Tomorrow, the doggie-wheelchair arrives.  I’m pretty psyched for Franklin that he will be able to amble around the block again.  We’ll take it slow at first, but I know he is going to master it like a champ.


Franklin loves lounging in the cool grass in the backyard

Prince Franklin and the broken femur

The dogs and I went up to my brother’s house in Idaho for the weekend, to do some relaxing and some running in the mountains.  It’s about 10 degrees cooler where my brother lives and I really felt like I needed to get out of the heat (it’s been around 100 degrees here in Salt Lake).IMG_9628.jpg

After a couple of days of good Idaho-living and running in the mountains, the dogs and I drove back to SLC Sunday evening.  When we got home, Franklin jumped out of the back of the Subaru of his own accord and stumbled a little, but he has a really weak back end and he’s 15 years old, so I didn’t think much of it.  He went for a short walk Sunday night, but didn’t really want to walk Monday or Tuesday.  I called the vet Tuesday and asked if I could bring him in for a pain shot (because I had already increased his oral pain medications, Rimadyl and Tramadol) and he only seemed a little bit better.  Thankfully, the vet got us in right away.IMG_9637.jpgIMG_9620.jpg


Charlotte, 6 months old, doesn’t want to leave Franklin’s side.  This behavior started Sunday night.  I’m sure she senses something is wrong.  And Franklin, usually the grumpy old dog, is allowing her to snuggle in his bed with him.

It’s at this point in the story where I should probably let you know that 10 years ago, Franklin jumped out of the back of my brother’s truck up in Idaho and fractured his femur.  He went through a couple of surgeries and a couple of months of physical therapy to fix it.  He’s had trouble with arthritis in that knee for a handful of years, but he has always dealt with the situation really well and has been a really active dog despite his injury.

6 months ago, in January of this year, he was gimping some and started draining gross discharge from the leg, and it turned out that the hardware had worked itself loose and was being rejected (abscessing).  Franklin has been on antibiotics for the past 6 months and has done really well.  The ortho vet whom we consulted, didn’t want to take the hardware out because at Franklin’s advanced age, he didn’t think the bone would be able to repair itself.

At the vet’s office today, Dr Lynette encouraged me to get an x-ray of Franklin’s leg.  I kind of wanted to hold off and see how he would respond to a change in his pain meds over the next few days, but I could tell she really wanted to get the x-ray.  So we did, and  we found out the reason why Franklin doesn’t want to put weight on his leg:  the impact from jumping out of the back of the car re-fractured his femur.  So here we are with a dog who, despite not wanting to bear weight on his injured leg, is eating drinking, peeing, pooping, and altogether quite happy.


Fracture of the right hind leg is visible at the 4th screw down from the top.  You can also see that the screw heads are above the plate, which means they have worked loose.

The decision might be more easily made if he were miserable, but he’s not.  He was goofing around with the vet techs at the clinic today and begging for treats.  He is a prince.  Prince Franklin.  I’m not sure what we are going to do, but I will post updates when I hear back from the ortho vet on a recommendation as to where we go from here.

I feel so horribly guilty that I let him jump out of the back of the car a couple of days ago. I feel like I should have prevented this from happening.  How could I think that a 15 year old dog with brittle bones and loose hardware in his leg could sustain that kind of impact and not have an injury.  But I suppose it doesn’t do any good to look back and think what I could have or should have done.  We just have to move forward.

Now… I’m going to search online for doggie-wheelchairs…


Franklin, 3 days after re-fracturing his femur, happily chilling in the backyard.

Charlotte and the Dog Door

Miss Charlotte pup is now 5 months old and has graduated to being able to use the dog door while I’m at work!  Hooray for minimizing puppy accidents in the house!  She still pees on the pee-pads every so often in front of the back door.  I decided to give her a trial run at having access to the dog door, and things have gone fairly well.

She caught on really fast and learned how to use it within a couple of days.  It’s an automatic-locking dog door, so it’s not as easy to figure out as one that doesn’t lock.  She’s been using Watson, the neighbors’ dog’s, dog door for a month or two already, which is a dog door that doesn’t lock.  Soon she will be too big to fit through the terrier-sized door, though!


Charlotte sports a new collar with dog door key-fob

Things have gone fairly well, except where the cat is concerned.  Mimi, the black cat, likes to sneak out the door after Charlotte opens it.  Charlotte has a key-fob attached to her collar, so that when she gets close to the door, the fob unlocks the automatic door with a loud “click.”  She was a little afraid of it for about a day, but she’s gotten used to it.  The click is a signal that the door is open for her.  Problem is, Mimi sits on the back stairs and waits for Charlotte to unlock the door (for her).

I hate it when Mimi goes outside.  First of all, she goes out and doesn’t return for over 12 hours.  Second, when she does come inside, she often fights with Steggie, the sweet black and white cat, for no good reason.  I think going outside makes her extra aggressive.  Third, last year when I gave her open access to the dog door, she decided she didn’t want to use her cat box anymore and started peeing and pooping in the house (on the carpet, of course).  So outdoor access is pretty much shut off for her.  Thankfully, Steggie doesn’t have any desire to go outside.  Also thankfully, the weather has turned really hot (100 degrees), so Mimi has less desire to go outside.  You can read more about how I solved the problem of the cat aggression issue here.

It is really nice to come home and not have to clean up puppy messes.  But I worry that Charlotte might be barking outside while I’m gone.  My neighbor, Kate, has peeked over the fence and kept an eye on her:  she said Charlotte was quietly minding her own business in the backyard a few days ago.

But yesterday, when I was leaving for work, Charlotte came out the dog door and was freaking out at the back gate, watching me drive away.  I had to drive around the block and drive back to the house to check on her.  All was quiet when I made a slow drive-by a couple of minutes later.  So hopefully, all my worrying is for naught.  I might have to set up the doggie cam so that I can keep an eye on her while I’m at work.  But watching the dogs while I’m working pretty much makes me just want to be at home with them.  Which reminds me of this meme that I saw on social media:


Forever Artemis: therapy dog

There are many times that I thought Artemis could have been a therapy dog.  I never followed through with getting her certified, and perhaps I should have.  But there were plenty of times that she filled the roll of therapy dog, even though she wasn’t “official.”

Many Sunday afternoons, especially as she was getting older, I would walk the dogs over to Liberty Park, which is about a half-mile from the house.  Franklin, Artemis, and I had a great 2 mile loop that we took, and the park is alway busy with lots of people on Sunday afternoons.

There are always lots of kids playing and skateboarding and biking, but there are also a lot of people who like to just sit on a bench and take it all in.  These are the people whom Artemis would seek out.

We would be walking through the park, and after taking a look at the birds in the aviary (Artemis really liked the crimson Egrets and the parrots and especially the peacock) we would walk the middle row between the aviary and the pond.  I usually let the dogs take a long look at the ducks and geese in the pond, but never let them off leash for fear that they would jump in to chase the waterfowl and go swimming.

So we would stroll along the middle row of sidewalk, where the benches are all lined up. Sometimes the dogs would get called over by people sitting on benches, but oftentimes Artemis would pull me and Franklin over to someone who looked in need of some attention.  Artemis would simply walk up to the person, sit down in front of them, and place her paw in their lap.

“What a sweet dog!  She knew that I needed some attention today.  Thank you so much for saying hello,” would be the typical response from the stranger.

Artemis wasn’t an official therapy dog, but she was a therapy dog.  She knew the right people to seek out and she knew just the right amount of attention to give them.


Artemis (l) and Franklin (r) stop for a picture after greeting folks in the park


Artemis especially liked watching the peacock in the park

Volunteer Time at Scout Mountain Ultra Trail

Last weekend, the dogs and I traveled up to Pocatello, Idaho to volunteer at the Scout Mountain Ultra Trail race with my brother and a group of people from the Pocatello Running Club.  We needed to get up early, meet my brother’s friend, Matt, and hike in to the aid station about a mile to start setting up gear that had been dropped off the night before with ATVs.  My brother and I decided to take two cars to the trailhead, just in case Charlotte didn’t make it all day (it was a long day, and she’s only 4 1/2 months old).  I had visions of her tied to a tree and barking all day at the runners.

We did not get much sleep the night before.  For whatever reason, Charlotte would not settle down and was awake every hour to go outside from 10pm until 3am.  I finally went out to the car at 3am and got a couple of her stuffed toys and she kind of slept for a couple of hours and then wanted to go out again at 5am.  We snoozed until 6:30 and then it was time to get going.  I felt like it was going to be a really long day…

My brother made me breakfast, which was good, because I usually don’t eat breakfast and I think it really helped to get me going for the day.  We left Franklin in the backyard with a peanut butter Kong to chew on (because he is a good boy) but I didn’t trust Charlotte to stay in the yard for 10+ hours.  There’s not much phone reception where we were on the mountain, so if she did get out and someone called us, we might not have even gotten the call.

So we picked up Matt and drove up to the trailhead.  Charlotte was all chipper and ready to go, prancing up the trail.  At one point, my brother said, “Wow, a deer… she (Charlotte) smelled it, but didn’t run after it.”  Thank God.

When we got to the aid station area, we started setting up and getting food and drinks ready, which took about an hour.  One other woman was with us (Louise) and the running club hadn’t shown up yet.  Turns out, they would show up later because some of them were sweeping the first part of the race before heading up (talk about a long day!).

After we were mostly set up, I took Charlotte for a hike up to the Frog Pond, about a mile away.  She had fun snooping along in the creeks along the way.  On the way back we met the bartender from Pebble Creek Ski Area and her daughter, and a man on a motorbike whom Charlotte stopped for and was very cautious, waiting on the side of the trail.

As the day went on, Charlotte roamed around the aid station and mostly stayed off to the side of the action.  She said hi to a lot of the runners but didn’t jump on them.  I was helping at the drinks and ice station most of the morning, and she stayed right nearby, snuggled into the base of a tree.  I tethered her to the tree when the foot traffic was really heavy and she started barking at one point.  “Oh no, ” I thought.  “Here we go.”  I let her off the leash to let her go and get a drink in the nearby creek, and she just looked up at me and squatted to pee.  “Oh is that why you were barking?  You had to go potty?”  Such a good puppy.

There were several times in the afternoon when I was looking around for her and kind of started to panic, thinking she had wandered off or followed some of the runners up the trail.  She was found, several times, sleeping under an aid station table in the shade.  She got so tired in the afternoon that she decided she no longer wanted to sleep on the ground, but wanted to be in a camp chair so she climbed up and took a nap.  She was totally fed up with the biting flies and mosquitos 8 hours into the day (such a long day for a puppy) and when we finally dumped the left-over ice out of the cooler, she sat her little buns on the pile of ice and cooled her belly on it.

We hiked out, and she pranced right along ahead of us, looking back every few minutes to make sure we were coming.

We got home and she was happy to see Franklin (and he was happy to see us), the dogs ate their dinner, and promptly fell asleep on the kitchen floor.

I’m not sure how I got so lucky to have such an amazingly smart and agreeable little puppy.  I’m so proud of Charlotte Jane.


Charlotte, stretching her legs on the way to Frog Pond


Me and Charlotte Jane taking a break from setting up the aid station


Charlotte contemplates her situation and her water bowl as Elizabeth looks on


Charlotte got tired of napping on the ground, so she climbed into a camp chair for her extended afternoon nap


Charlotte cooling her jets with Ariane after a long day volunteering

Skipping Class: a puppy truant

We skipped out on puppy class yesterday evening.  I just couldn’t find the motivation to go.  Here’s the thing:  Charlotte gets really frustrated there, with all the clickers and commotion going on.  It’s hard for her to focus and I can tell she is frustrated because she forgets her name, doesn’t listen, and sits in the middle of the room barking.  She really is a good puppy for me outside of the class.  I understand the fact that, “She needs to be able to do things when the situation is difficult.”  But you know what?  She does.  She already does that.

Yesterday morning, I went up to Park City with my friend Alyssa and her dog Kona, and Charlotte and Watson for a trail hike/run.  We hiked up for a little over 2 miles and didn’t see many people, only a handful of mountain bikers who were all very courteous.  Charlotte jumped up to say “Hi!” but only when they were stopped on the side of the trail, and she did get down when I told her to.

She was actually as much of an angel as a 4 1/2 month old puppy can be.  She stuck around, came when she was called, and was not a complete nuisance.  She has good mentors in Watson and Kona for how to behave on the trail.

Towards the end of the hike, we came along two older gentlemen on the trail.  At this point, we were about 4 miles into our 5 1/2 mile adventure, so I’m sure Charlotte was getting a little tired.  She was up ahead and as she approached the men, I told her, “No jumping!  No jumping!”  and you know what?  She didn’t jump up!  Only when one of the men started really fussing over her to say hello did she start to get really excited and did a half-jump onto his knees.  He assured me it was all his fault that she had jumped up, and that he is guilty of many dogs’ disobedience.

Charlotte is going with Mountain Mutts again today while I am at work.  I’m so happy that she has a place to run and play and learn on her own terms, in an environment that suits her.  We’ll keep working on basic commands at home and in the Park.  For now, she is an amazing trail dog which was my number one goal for her.





Charlotte Jane vs. Charlotte Duane

Ok, first off, I need to be completely honest and say that Charlotte sucks at puppy class.  The amount of distractions with the other puppies around is insane.  She hears multiple clickers going off all at the same time and I think it probably drives her crazy.  She doesn’t even know her name in puppy class.  I click and treat her and do my best to get her to focus in on me, but she really just can’t do it with all of the distractions.  There’s a couple of dogs in particular who drive her crazy.  I can tell she just wants to get them outside and run them into the ground, but we have to be civilized in puppy class and mind our manners.  It’s hard.

It was this past week with my neighbor Erika that we decided to call Charlotte “Charlotte Duane” when she is doing something bad.  In Erika’s family, all of their dogs have had the middle name “Duane” whenever they did something wrong.  The name certainly fits Charlotte in certain situations, and she was definitely in fine form as Charlotte Duane the last two weeks at puppy class.  Just like last week, she was sitting in the middle of the room, leash taut to her neck, barking.  We had a “meet and greet” training exercise where the dogs needed to go up to each other, sniff each other politely, and then turn away when called by their handlers.  Charlotte Duane was like, “OHMYGOD, you are the coolest dog EVER!  Do you want to play?” all wiggles and grins and I kid you not every other dog and handler was like, “Get that crazy black lab away from us.”  To which Charlotte Duane’s response was, “Wait, what?  We have to go?  They’re not interested?  But WHY?!?…

And then there were the games.  We were supposed to have them play with a handkerchief, a bell, a light that when tapped went on and off, a basket.  What did Charlotte Duane do?  She climbed into the box that was holding the toys to eat some stray kibble that was in there.  Seriously, head, paws, and front end all in the box pushing the toys out of the way to get the food.  Butt in the air with tail wagging.  I was so embarrassed.  She really is such a smart dog!  Why does she lose her mind and get all stupid at puppy class?  She’s like the one kid at the party who gets all hyped up on sugar and is like, “Let’s PARTY!!!” And all the other kids just stare at him with eyes wide and mouth open and gaping.

Contrast this bad puppy to the puppy I know at home; the puppy I know on the trails and in my own neighborhood.  That good puppy is the one I know as Charlotte Jane.  Sure, she gets excited around other people and dogs and jumps up, but we’re working on that, and she’s just a four-month-old puppy.  She’s actually shown a little improvement the past few days as far as the jumping up on people.  Several days ago, we were hiking on a trail above Salt Lake City.  Charlotte saw a group of people:  a couple of ladies and a young boy.  She started to jump up and I told her, “OFF!”  I told the boy to tell her “Off!” and you know what she did?  She got down and stopped jumping on them.  She sat on the trail and wiggled and let them pet her.


Charlotte Jane the trail dog

Later that same hike, she was about 30 yards ahead of me on the trail when another woman with a dog called up to us, “My dog isn’t very good around other dogs!” as she got her dog clipped on the leash.  I called to Charlotte and she looked back to me.  I clicked the clicker and she stayed where she was (and didn’t advance to the other dog).  She and I did this one more time and then on the third try, I said, “Charlotte here!  Come here!”  And she came.  From 30 yards away with another dog and person tempting her down the trail.  Charlotte Jane.

She is really such a sweet puppy and she tries so hard.  She plays hard and she loves hard.  She loves so much on one of my cats that the cat is terrified of her (Charlotte Duane).  She loves so hard that she cries in her kennel at night for the first few minutes because she wants to be with her family (Charlotte Jane).  She plays so hard with her friend Watson and typically lets him win (she doesn’t fight back) when he gets a little rowdy (Charlotte Jane).  She sticks around on the trail, off leash, and comes when she’s called (Charlotte Jane).  She did escape from the neighbors’ yard the other day (Charlotte Duane), which gave my neighbor Kate and I both a heart attack because we didn’t know where she had gone, but then she was found by another neighbor sitting in the front yard of her own house (Charlotte Jane).  She sits, stays, lies down, shakes hands, and rolls over all for treats (Charlotte Jane).


Puppy trail kisses are the best

Counting up the Charlotte Janes vs the Charlotte Duanes, she really is a good puppy.  She just gets challenged with there are other distractions, especially other dogs (puppies).  I’m planning on taking Charlotte to the park near our house to sit on a bench and sit, stay, and watch other people go by all while trying to be calm.  I’ll try and teach Charlotte to “settle” and not get too excited about the things around us but just let things “be” and hopefully she can earn a few treats and clicks while doing so.  Laurie, our puppy class instructor, said, “She might only earn one or two treats the first time you go.  But that’s ok.  It’s all about trying to get her to be good while there’s other distractions around and when things are difficult.”

I know that there will always be a part of Charlotte who is Duane.  But we are going to try and get Charlotte Jane to win out the majority of the time.


Charlotte Jane and her best buddy Watson, taking a break from playing wrestle-mania


So, so tired from playing so hard with friend Watson

Some days are just like, well… huh. Puppy Class with Charlotte

Charlotte and I have gone to two puppy-training classes at the kennel/daycare/vet office where I met her.  The first lesson day went spectacularly!  Charlotte was a star pupil.  Puppy training climg_86371.jpgass is not about socialization and playing.  It’s work.  Charlotte did a really great job to sit and wait quietly and listen to her clicker for the first time two weeks ago.  She earned a lot of treats and soon learned that being a good dog means getting lots of clicks and treats.

I was a bit skeptical of the clicker training method at first, but after working with Charlotte at home and on the trails with the clicker, she really seems to respond to it well, and it helps her to focus and listen to me.

Don’t get me wrong, she is still a four-month-old puppy.  She has her struggles.  The other night, after having a really busy day (me at work, Charlotte played out in the neighbors’ back yard for about 4 hours while I was gone) she really just couldn’t settle down and go to bed.  She barked in her kennel for about an hour.  I took her out to potty and got her a drink of water, but she still just wouldn’t settle down.  I ended up putting her in bed with me and she slept through the night.  I don’t want it to become commonplace for her to sleep in my bed with me, but sometimes when times are tough, you gotta break the rules to have a little snuggle time.

IMG_8850.JPGShe’s also been jumping up on things more (the couch to chase the cat, front paws on the kitchen counter, dining room table, and entryway table) and I’m thinking she is just going through an adolescent curiosity phase.  We are working on “sit and wait” and “down and stay” and she actually is doing pretty well with those commands as well.  I’m trying to keep lots of legal things around for her to chew on:  peanut butter Kongs and rawhide treats, and letting her know when she is good (instead of just yelling at her when she is bad).

So, to recount the second class of puppy training, I first need to say that Charlotte went out for almost 4 hours (car time and hiking time) with Mountain Mutts and my friend Nicole.  It was Charlotte’s first outing with the group, and Nicole got some really great photos of Charlotte tearing up the trails.  Previously, my Goldens, Franklin and Artemis, had gone with two other friends of mine who have dog hiking groups.  But I chose for Charlotte to go with Nicole because Charlotte’s best friend, Watson the terrier, goes with her and is a really great mentor for Charlotte.

I got off work a little after 5pm, and got home to get Franklin and Charlotte out for a quick stroll around the block before leaving for class.  I also fed Charlotte her dinner.  Looking at her, laying in her bed after eating dinner, I could tell she needed a nap, but we didn’t really have time for that.  Class started at 6:30, and Charlotte was asleep in the car on the way to class.

Unfortunately, it was raining, so the outdoor facilities at the kennel were unavailable for the class.  More folks and their dogs had also shown up class this time.  I was a little overwhelmed with the high energy of the class and the close proximity of the dogs, and I can only imagine how poor, tired Charlotte felt.

Class did not go well.  There were several times when Charlotte just sat in the middle of the room and barked.  She clearly looked like she was over it.  Once during the class, the instructor, Laurie, was giving the group some instructions and at the end of the explanation, she said, “Unless you are Charlotte, and then, well…. we’ll just take what we can get today.”

I went up to Laurie after the class and explained the situation, told her what Charlotte had done with the hiking group earlier that day, and we both agreed that Charlotte was just plain over-stimulated and probably needed a nap.  I thanked Laurie and told her we would see her next week, and that I was happy for what Charlotte did accomplish today:  trying to concentrate and do what she’s told even though she was tired and didn’t want to be there.  Laurie agreed, and said, “I wish everyone could understand that about puppies!”


Charlotte immediately zonked out in the car for the drive home from puppy class.

Charlotte and I did have a couple of great trail runs the past couple of days.  She’s been working on the command “here” with and without the clicker, and is circling back around after going ahead on her own (she never goes more than 10-20 yards).  I’m really super-proud of her, and happy that she is catching on so quickly to commands.  All this hard work early in her life is really paying off for the future, I can just tell.  I’m so lucky to have such a smart pup who wants to learn and please.


Beautiful Charlotte pup on the trail this weekend



Puppy trail kisses