I might have called this post “Whine-O-Rama”, but I’m trying to understand the process from a more enlightened position. After the first night with our new 10 week-old puppy, I know a lot more about Lila as an individual than I did before. Last night was, uh…noisy.
I think I understand. She was taken from the company of her litter, and took a plane ride in a crate, then a long car ride. She was probably quite tired, which I mis-perceived as an unusual level of relaxation for such a young dog. Once she had a couple of hours of sleep, she began to show a lot more energy. She’s very sensitive, and highly intelligent. What I thought was calmness was actually her ability to focus. Lila pays attention.
When young babies observe the primary care giver passing out of view, they incorrectly assume that person has exited from the universe. It’s stressful, and they cry. When we are out of view, Lila whines. She will do most anything if we are there, even accept being rolled onto her back and examined, and remain relaxed. Though she doesn’t like it, she will even go into her kennel to sleep alone. But once she’s in there, if she can’t see us, she whines.
Therefore, last night she woke us up every hour or so. To an extent, we have to let her cry and not go to her, because that reinforces her to whine more. Then once she stops, we go to her and praise her for being quiet. However, young puppies also need to go out and pee every couple of hours. We have to learn to discern the “I need to WEE” whine from the “Where did you GO?” whine. That got harder to do as the night wore on. I needed lots of coffee today. Loads.
She’s only had one accident, on a throw rug while Mary was on the phone, and it was just a dribble. By comparison, she has relieved properly on the cement over a dozen times since her arrival. That’s a good average. Young puppy pee is a lot less smelly than adult cat urine. (Whew!)
I think Lila is able to distinguish male and female pheromones by smell. Either that or some sort of pack dynamic is going on I don’t understand yet. She appears to have some innate understanding of the distinction between Mommy and Daddy. She responds differently when being handled by Mary or by me. She’s quieter and easier on the leash with me, but she also stops and sits more. She whines and queries Mary more often, but she will also try more obstacles, like stairs.
The cats haven’t had any confrontations with her. Dixie, the gregarious alpha, looks down at the dog from higher ground. She appears to understand that Lila is a baby, and is not disturbed, merely observant and curious. Heidi, our fraidy cat, is acting exactly as she does when an unknown person is in the house. She only has one reaction to novelty. She stays under the bed. Lila is so focused on us humans I haven’t seen her notice the cats, let alone react to them.
I was watching the reconstructed version of Sam Peckinpah’s Major Dundee, one of the last film projects I worked on before switching to health care work. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Major_Dundee#Restored_version)
There’s a scene where soldiers sing “Shall We Gather At The River?“ at a field burial. This was Peckinpah offering homage to John Ford, the great director of classic Westerns who often placed the hymn in his films.
I was writing the beginning of this piece while waiting for the coffee to kick in. When I heard the song in the background, I began humming along. Lila, who had been fussing, stopped and stared at me in rapt fascination. She seems to have a thing for vocal music. That’s good, because she’s going to hear a lot of it at our house. Maybe it will work as a lullaby.