Puppies and Pandemics

TW: Pet loss

Black and Tan Yorkshire Terrier, cut short, laying on her side on purple pillows

In November 2021 we had to say goodbye to my little Yorkie – Neevie. She had been sick for a few weeks with ‘Protein-Losing Enteropathy’ where they loose fluid into their tummy and become very lethargic and not interested in food. She was only 11 years old which is fairly young for a Yorkie (Benjie, the dog we had previously lived to a ripe old age of 16). Going back and forth to the vet, in the middle of a pandemic when I was supposed to be shielding was pretty rough, but they did everything they could to make it easier for me. The rules said that they weren’t allowed to let you inside the building for most of it so we would wait outside whilst they took her in to do the tests. Unfortunately the treatment didn’t really work and Neevie was so unhappy because she was wetting her bedding (she was a very clean dog) due to the steroids and she had no appetite. She tried her best to follow us about like normal but had no energy so often once she got to where we were, she would lay uncomfortably on the floor and wait for us to return back to somewhere that she was more comfy. I couldn’t let her go on like that so I decided it was best to let her go. When Dad was with us she had attached herself to him quite strongly so I put her to rest with Dad up at the crematorium in Grenoside. She also loved a walk around there when we would go and visit Dad. She was really good off the lead so when we got half way around I’d say ‘Go find mum!’ and she’d run off like a greyhound to where mum was waiting (NEVER going over any plots – it was like she knew not to disturb them!)

As you can probably tell I’m a bit of a dog person so as sad as it was to loose her, it wasn’t long before I was convincing mum that we needed a new dog. Along with many other people, I felt it was a great time to get a new puppy as I was at home to help train it and so when mum eventually agreed and I’d found a breeder I liked, I booked two weeks ‘pup-ternity’ leave from work! In-case you’re wondering this isn’t actually a ‘thing’ (wouldn’t it be great if it was!). Also when I say ‘help train in’ I mean all the good parts like ‘sit’ and ‘stay’ as our house isn’t accessible enough to make it possible for me to do the house training bits of the equation!

At the end of April 2021 we welcomed a black and while Maltipoo, Obie, to the family.

Blonde woman smiling very happily holding a black and white puppy

She was soooo tiny and inquisitive, even on the first night but wow is she active! I don’t know if its the result of genes (her mum is apparently always on the go as well, but her dad sleeps 23.5hours a day) or partly because of being a pandemic puppy but boy has she been a challenge. With Neevie I trained her alongside my then boyfriend and we very much took the approach that she had to fit in with us. I think this contributed to her being quite a timid dog in many ways. With Obie though I had done a lot more reading about dog behaviour and how best to train them and the perils of letting them ‘cry it out’ and so I took a different approach where we try not to force her to do things, but rather build up to the desired behaviours slowly, with a lot of positive reinforcement. For example she slept on my bed with me for four months and then eventually she was happy to be in her crate – this has regressed again now but hopefully we will get back there.

Like I say, I have no idea if it’s the training, the genes, being a pandemic dog or a combination of all three but boy is she hard work! She has a lot of confidence for such a tiny dog and so much energy! Dogs are meant to sleep 16-18 hours a day (even adult ones), I’m lucky if Obie sleeps for 12. A couple of months ago we went out to the local recycling centre and decided to leave her at home (before this she has come everywhere with us, but was happy enough to be on the other side of a door to us). We were gone no more than twenty minutes and we have a doggie camera – well she wolf howled the entire time meaning she has a good case of separation anxiety. We’ve had to have a doggie behaviourist in and this has helped things quite a bit to be fair – meaning we were doing it wrong! But she is still a very active pup who needs to be in the same house as us at the very least. Thank-fully when I go back to work mum will be around with her and we have a couple of great people who will look after her if mum wants to go somewhere Obie can’t go, but it means a lot of advanced planning if we want to go anywhere.

Two of the most effective things we have done (although we felt bad about it as she really doesn’t like it), are to keep her harness on her all the time so that when she isn’t listening to us or being too boisterous, we can easily catch hold of her and put her in another room/just hold her which calms her down. The other is to put her toys away (or most of them) until we are ready to play with her. She is now getting into a routine in the evening that she has a stuffed kong whilst we eat, then she gets to play after Eastenders, and then winds down with a licky mat. The trainer did suggest putting her in the kitchen whilst we eat to get her used to not being around us all the time but to be honest I think that’s what’s made her regress with the crate training. We did it a few times but she got so upset that she got more clingy. One of her favourite games, especially if mum isn’t ready to play with her (she doesn’t seem to bring me her toys, I think it’s because I can’t be as active) is for me to throw treats in the air and she catches them. She’s got a good 50/50 ratio of being successful!

Our next big challenge is to take her to Centre Parcs with us. I love going there as it’s all really accessible and we used to take Neevie who loved it (mostly) because she got so many walks. When we took Neevie she did used to be a bit hard to settle at night because it was all so new, so as night time settling is an issue for Obie anyway I am a bit worried about how it’s all going to go! Hopefully we can tire her out so much that she just collapses and sleeps through. Time will tell!

I better end it here – she is sat at the living room door grumbling because mum has shut her on the wrong side so that she can go and plant some seeds without a little furry face getting in the soil!

Grey and white dog laying on a pillow asleep
“Don’t believe a word the hu-mum says! I’m totally innocent!”

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