Sunday, 9 December 2012

Nico's First Haircut

before the cut, and hardly able to see.

Growing up, I have been around a decent number of babies. I myself have three brothers that are a lot younger than me and remember their toothless drooling stages well. Parents often get emotional over their child’s first haircut with some even keeping a lock of the baby’s hair and growing up I found it to be utterly ridiculous. People would talk of what a big moment it was in the child’s life and how something was different afterwards and I scoffed inside because the baby would still drool and try to shove a crayon in its mouth when it got home. It is just a haircut right? People get them all the time and it is not like the child is only ever going to get one so in my eyes there was nothing to get worked up or fussed about.

Then Nico needed clipped.

Suddenly I got it parents of the world, I just got it.

I booked him for his first grooming session when he was 18 weeks old and found myself getting steadily more nervous about the whole thing. Part of it I put down to my General Anxiety Disorder and the way everything gets me wound up but there was something more to it, something that just felt like it would have been there regardless.  There were the normal things to get anxious about, of course, like how would he be in the groomer’s bath considering his escape attempts at home and would he sit still long enough to get clipped?  I knew the woman would know what she was doing but still I worried he was going to move at the wrong moment and get a chunk taken out of him. Nico is just as unpredictable as a human child in that way.

Then, there was the fact that he would look different. He would be moving on to another stage in his floppy eared life and not be a right baby any more. He gets more independent and bigger every day and while it is amazing to see, there is also a feeling of loss in there too. I gain a wonderful personality a little more each day but at the same time his ‘puppyhood’ gets chipped away. This was going to be a rather large chip I slowly realised.  I’m still pretty sure that the sharpness of his claws and the fact that he was half blinded by his own coat was what made me stick to my guns.

When he was younger I was all for letting Nico’s coat grow out so he would look like the stereotypical Lhasa Apso dog you see on the front cover of books, but I decided against that as soon as he was getting outside. Nico is fond of rolling around in grass, and brushing him after that with a short coat was hard enough work as it was. Then came the fact that he would get his claws stuck in his coat very easily despite the brush going through his coat with no problem at all. Apart from the fact that it is easier on me if his coat is at a shorter length, Nico seemed to be getting genuinely irritated with his coat as it grew longer and since his clipping has seemed more content. He can see, which is a bonus.  The getting his foot stuck to his own head two minutes after a brush did play a part in my decision though. It is very easy for people to say ‘if his coat was brushed properly that wouldn’t happen’ but he is a puppy. He likes to roll around like a fool as I said and that doesn’t bode well for his perfectly brushed locks.

His nails needed clipped and I confess getting the groomer to do that is because of a lack of confidence on my part. I have the clippers required but when I try I just can’t tell if I am hurting him or not and while I can afford to get his nails done with his trim I don’t want to risk it. We walked along and it started raining halfway along but hey, he was getting a bath so I didn’t feel too bad about presenting a drip to the woman. He was a happy drip.

I was able to see everything that would be used and proceedings were explained before the choice came as to whether to stay with the wee man or leave. Nico was perfectly content to wander around the room sniffing things and didn’t seem all that aware of my presence now he had new things to explore. He had the previous week gotten a hold of my glasses and chewed them, putting some scratches on the lenses. (We had words about who they belong to after that and since they have been safe) I decided to leave Nico in capable hands and see about getting some new windows as it were. If he was going to squeal the whole time, I wasn’t sure I could handle hearing it and I admit I took the cowardly route out and toddled off down the road. However, I was assured this was a good thing and must once again bring in the dog to toddler comparison. If was there, Nico might have tried to get back to me at the waiting area and been constantly aware of what I was doing or how I felt about things and he would probably be nervous enough about the giant buzzing clippers coming towards him without me feeling just as, if not more, scared in the corner. So off I went.

right after. totally different dog!

I returned to find an adorable puppy sitting on the woman’s lap at the computer some hour and 15 minutes later and did a double take. He looked nothing like the dog I had deposited there just over an hour before! As you can see from the pictures, he is far lighter now. I adore being able to see his eyes and it was a rather emotional moment to see him hop down and come running all bright eyed. He just felt so soft and I guess I felt a deep sense of relief that no meteor had hit earth because of my choice or something. I was assured the groomer would do what Nico allowed her to and not force him and cause him distress and gave herself 2 hours to work, thinking she wouldn’t need it. She was right and Nico was a star that behaved perfectly. I must add, it was wonderful to get his bum hair cut. People don’t like talking about it but little dogs with big coats can get poop stuck to their bums and cleaning that up is about as much fun as changing a nappy.

I just kept looking at him for most of the remainder of the day. As a reward for good behaviour I got him a bone and that meant he just sat at my feet for most of the afternoon while I fawned and stared. They don’t warn you about going all soft at your pup’s first haircut that is for sure. It was a very emotional experience in many ways and yes I admit to being sappy over it all. He’s just so damn cute though, I can’t help it!

Sam and Nico

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Book Review

Slight deviation from normal business! I read this book recently to try to help train Nico. I then reviewed it on my book review blog and thought it relevant to this blog as well. I think it would be an understatement to say that I was far from impressed and generally felt uneasy by the end of it.

available to read here

Friday, 2 November 2012

Walkies! Or...not.

If Nico were a small human child, he would be the one running around naked and screaming to avoid going in the bath, which you subsequently can’t get back out of the bath fifteen minutes later. Of that, I have no doubts. Baths <i>are</i> interesting with Nico and I will touch upon that in another blog but the point of this blog is something that should really be a lot simpler. Walking. I guess I took it for granted that the minute Nico was allowed outside he would automatically know how to walk and off we would go. Um, no. The first time that Nico and I ventured outside into the scary world with leash on and paws ready he….sat on the ground and looked at me. There was no bounding off into the large garden that we’re privileged to have, no tail wagging, and certainly no tugging to get going. No, Nico just sat.

I took him onto the grass and he had a sniff but still had no great urge to wander. It put it down to his age and figured he would get better as he grew up. Well, he is fifteen weeks now and still isn’t huge on walking. Lhasas are not water dogs and Nico is no exception to that particular rule. The site of a raindrop has him trying desperately to get home. He has a lovely coat and doesn’t want it getting out of shape, thank you very much~ Suddenly the name Nico seems to fit him so well, as many F1 addicts will I’m sure agree. (With a chuckle of course) Now, well this is where the bath references start to come into play. It is hard to get Nico going. Lhasas are not big walkers anyway but still, I think it is good for him to get a couple of little walks in a day. He has others ideas and would rather potter around the garden with an empty yogurt pot hanging out his mouth.

Often he just sits and whines and refuses to move. So I stand patiently, don’t look at him, don’t talk to him and so he trots along for a whole three steps and then he stops and he whines and he refuses to move and rinse and repeat. He just doesn’t get it. It can take us fifteen minutes to talk the length of my street some days.  However, when I do get him going he sure goes. He’s either a lazy sod or a champ when it comes to walking.  When he is willing he trots along nicely, investigating leaves (which move in the wind omg his little mind was blown!) and getting to know the neighbours.  Being the type of dog that he is, his legs are really too short for his body so he more runs than walks even though I dawdle myself to let him keep up. His breeding shows when he is wary of strangers and other dogs but willing to say hello once he is sure.  He really is brilliant when he’s happily walking. He loves the canal when I can get him there and walking right smack through the middle of the deepest muddiest puddles he can find.  (Isn’t so fond of the brushing required afterwards but it is good to learn!)  I think it shows that if I can win this battle of wills over who is leading the walks and deciding where we are going and how long for that we are going to have a great time out and about together XD

Another strange trick to get Nico to walk though is to take...the cat. For some reason, Nico is quite happy to follow Morgan around the block and up and down the street. He doesn't chase her but just toddles along quite happily beside her. I have photographic proof. It makes me look like some sort of Doctor Doolittle. They both seem happy enough with the arrangement but I never thought I'd be wondering if the cat wanted to come a walk to get the dog going that is for sure!

Though, on the note of dogs and strangers. Lhasa Apsos are weary of strangers because their original purpose was to be guard dogs for Tibetan Monks. I’m really quite sick of people touching Nico without him consenting. And yes, he can consent. His body language makes it obvious about whether he wants to be touched or not. If he is moving towards you with his tail wagging than he’s ok to be touched. If he’s stood at my feet watching you silently, he is still sizing you up. Leave him alone!  A small boy was walking by and very suddenly reached out and patted Nico on the head today. My wee man jumped and startled before running between my legs. The mother waved it off and said ‘I knew he would do that’. Well, do something about that. If Nico had reacted by biting the boy I doubt it would have caused her the same giggle she had today. Nico only has baby teeth so I doubt he could do much damage at the moment but he will get bigger. If the dog feels threatened, it won’t be my fault if he defends himself. It is another matter if he’s pulling on the leash and snarling but the situation today? The blame would be with the child and ultimately the mother who hasn’t taught the child any better. I would never have been allowed to reach out and touch a dog without permission when I was young. That probably has something to do with why I’ve never been bitten hmm?

Sam and Nico


Saturday, 22 September 2012

Adventure in Socialising

I randomly got a text from my mother today encouraging me to take Nico down to the High Street where she was out with my aunt to socialise him. At first, I didn’t want to. I would have to find trainers, get off my backside, go outside into the real world where people are and really, it was a large pile of DNW. My anxiety wanted to say hell to the no but, then I thought about Nico. It would be good for him, and he had been pretty rowdy this morning so it might calm him down. I thought about it a little more and decided to take him down. So, I bundled him up in his blanket and nervously left the house. He isn’t old enough to be allowed to walk himself yet but socialising with sounds, smells and people is encouraged.

I didn’t want to go. It was the first time my anxiety was really an issue with Nico and the first time he booted it in the face for me and let me do it anyway. It was for Nico, so I did it. This is one of the reasons I got him in the first place. At first, all we got were some looks as people tried to work out if that ball of fluff they could see was alive. He was silent the majority of the time and it wasn’t until he had nearly reached the main street that it happened. Someone came up to us.

I was walking, then suddenly a woman was smiling at me and reaching for Nico. My first reaction was panic to be honest. He is a purebred dog and he is worth a lot of money to someone who doesn’t care about him so much as they just see pound signs. However, the woman just started petting him and asked how old he was. I was pleasantly surprised to find I was able to respond fine and hold a very quick conversation with her while Nico lapped up the attention. She wandered off and I made my way down the street feeling proud of myself. I had talked to a stranger and there was no panic attack in site. Nico looked up at me for a second and I convinced myself he was saying well done.

Many people came up to us on my way to meet my mum. Most wanted to pet Nico, ask how old he was, what breed, and comment on how cute he is. (so proud, so proud. Yes he is :3) I coped pretty well considering the number of strangers I was having to deal with and though my stomach lurched at times, it felt good to have Nico in my arms like a warm balm, protector against the scary people. He was very well behaved and we made it to our destination without any crises. It showed me that yes, he is going to be amazing for me in the future, because he already is and he isn’t even a grown boy yet. (Though he is a fast growing boy with a love of yogurt pots) We got home with me feeling proud and Nico feeling tired. He went off for a well deserved nap and I returned to my room to lurk and be proud.

Also of note is that the walk took a mile and even if it was only me walking, it was most definitely our first mile to Mordor. Look at us go~

Nico and Sam :3

Monday, 17 September 2012

the plotting stage

When I told people that I was going to be getting a dog, the statement was usually met with disbelief. I’m known to be very much a cat person. It threw people and they were not sure, but still interested about what I would end up playing mummy to. I looked at rescue dogs, but in the end it was decided that for my first dog it would be best to get a puppy that we knew all about. There would be no skeletons in their small closet and it seemed like a sound plan, even if I felt terribly guilty about not giving a dog that was in need a home.  I settled on the Lhasa Apso breed for several reasons.

They are known to be quiet dogs that don’t bark without good reasons. Though they are active enough, they are not overly so which is perfect for me considering I struggle with health problems that leave me chronically fatigued. The small breed fits perfectly into my home with my parents and cat. Though some dogs would be welcome here, there is just no room. Reading the temperament information, I fell in love with the little dogs and couldn’t wait to find out more.

It turned out the family knew someone who had one and who in turn knew a breeder. I was wary. I had wanted to home a dog that couldn’t find a home and handing over a lot of cash for a purebred puppy didn’t really fit with my original idea. A phone call was made and I was informed she had puppies alright. Right now. I was thinking a few weeks, months down the line, but it wasn’t to be that way. So, three days later I was bringing little Nico home. When I called, there were three boys and when I went to get him he was the only one left.  He had been left behind. The runt so to speak, and yet I couldn’t see why. He was bursting with personality and was beautiful, adorable, and loving from the start.  I was offered another dog that was female and half poodle but Nico had my heart and home he came.  

The first week has been trying. In a lot of ways, it is like having a new-born baby around. He sleeps a lot and then when he is awake he demands most of my attention. He needs to be settled into a routine and showed how things are to happen around the house. I am demonstrating that I am the alpha of our little pack and while it sounds amusing, it sure is draining. My fatigue has been a real problem, especially with Nico waking up during the night and needing reassurance that he is ok, needing me to get up and put him back to bed.  My brain is always active and that takes its toll. He is full of energy and the only way to get rid of it is to play, as he is not allowed out yet.

When he is allowed out though, I have all sorts of new adventures planned that are a little more elaborate than teaching him when to come to me when called (a day’s work by the way). I’ve decided we’re going to take two challenges.  First, we’re going to walk from Surrey to Hogwarts, or more specifically we’re going to walk the same number of miles it would take to get from the town nearest Harry Potter’s home in Surrey to Dufftown, the nearest known town to Hogwarts. Sounds geeky right? I know, ain’t it awesome? Basically, I’m going to keep note of all the distances I’m covering with him (around my town and nowhere near Surrey) and add it all up until we’ve covered the  585 miles to Hogwarts. I plan to do this from mid-October, when Nico is allowed out on walks, to mid-April. However, I’m far too geeky to only have that going on. At the same time we’re walking to Mordor…from the Shire. Hobbiton to be precise. That is a whopping 1382 miles which I think will take us a couple of years but I am sure that it will be fun. I can track when we get to landmarks like Rivendale and the mines of Moria. Who ever said walking a dog was boring? I hope that it will also give me lots of motivation and belief in myself as I make progress.

Nico doesn’t know what he has been signed up for but so far, he seems full of energy so I don’t think he will mind too much. A few short walks a day and we will get there. It is rather symbolic because we are truly off on a journey together. Nico is at the start of his life and I’m starting a whole new version of Sam as a dog owner. I’m training him with a class not because I believe he will be hard to train but because I need to be trained! I want him to have the best quality of life, full of fun and tail wagging and I’m going to document our adventures here. You can laugh, cry, despair and maybe even shake your tails with us :)

Nico and Sam :3