The Furry Friend Tag

Between the last time I mentioned anything about this hairy beast, my many-months long blog break and now, it’s safe to say that Hairy Beast has grown quite a bit.

It’s time to chit-chat about her some more.

So without further delay, I present to you, the most original of ways to talk dog: The Furry Friend Tag.

1) What is your pet’s name?

Borders Make My Day Partner Around the World. Or “Moxie” for short.

We only use her obnoxious name for official items of business such as registering to vote and renewing her driving licence.

2) What kind of pet is it and what breed?

Dog. 100% dog.

Border Collie. 100% too.

Born and bred from a dainty mother and a hairy beast of a father.

3) How long have you had your pet friend?

As of right now, seven months. Seven long and hard months filled with stress, tears, numerous threatenings about being sold to the sausage factory, unsolicited dog advice in multiple languages and, occasionally, some laughter and smiles.

4) How did you get your pet?

Breeder. And that’s that.

I’m aware this risks opening a juicy can of worms and that’s OK. I just didn’t fancy bogging this post down with that kind of talk, the comments, however, that’s a free for all. Go nuts for doughnuts down there if you so wish.

5) How old is your pet?

Nine months. Almost spot on actually.

6) What are the nicknames that you call your pet?

Nicknames include: Mox, Dog, Dog-Face, Moxieke and puppy-tje – for a Flemish spin on things – as well as a collection of more unsavoury terms.

7) What are some quirky things about your pet’s personality?

One. Dog-Face is gullible enough that I can convince her that the worming tablets are a treat for high five-ing me.

Two. Dog also enjoys a bit of fly chasing despite rarely managing to catch said fly. Unless the fly is on the window, then she cracks it over the head with a paw and eats him. No questions asked.

Three. When Dog-Face is in doubt of how to get something you have, it’s time for “try everything and hope something sticks”. The pattern is usually sit down, lay down, sit back up, maybe try a half hearted attempt at rolling over, sit back up again, sit pretty, wave a lot and then just go back to laying down and moaning loudly. If there something she can grab nearby, she might even grab that and throw it at you.

Four. It is paramount that one must bark at least once when placed in her pen in the evening. It is important to always double check to see if the new rule of “when Moxie barks, Moxie gets” has finally been added to the list. It hasn’t.

Five. The day we do the food shop, is always the best day of the week. Inspecting the shopping is a serious business and always includes licking anything that is frozen and nibbling the ends of the spring onions. Sometimes we accidentally mistake the limes for new balls and they get a little battered before finally making it into the fridge.

8) What does your relationship with your pet mean to you?

Now that is a loaded question. I’d be lying if I said it meant all things wonderful to me, because it doesn’t.

It means a butt-load of hard work. It means putting up with strangers who feel the need to call out to my dog whilst we are walking, who blatantly ignore me when I ask them not to pet her or to at least approach her in a calmer manner, or just putting up with children who like to follow us as we walk around the park. It means a butt-load of stress on top of the hard work. It means always taking two steps forward and anywhere from three to fifteen steps back. It means unrealistic expectations, bouts of comparison-itis and feeling like you might just want to throw in the towel altogether.

Sometimes it means booking a spontaneous trip to the In-Laws for two weeks and leaving dog and husband at home so you can wash the dog smell out of your clothes and attempt to get a new perspective on life.

Sometimes this relationship with your pet is the worst thing ever. Sometimes it’s alright though.

Other times it’s going out for a family walk on the weekends. Or it’s watching furry-four-legs over here climb up on logs and sit there looking oh so pleased with herself. It’s watching her dive under the waterfall to get soaked but refusing to walk through puddles on the path. Maybe it’s getting your feet warmed whilst she sits next to the desk chair or better yet, getting a dog tongue in the ear because nothing says “I’m glad you’re home” better than a wet-willy.

Sometimes I envy those people and their dogs that I see calmly walking by. Sometimes I spend far too much time focussing on all the things my dog can’t do rather than all the things she can. Sometimes I see only problems, other days I see a future of family hikes and photos of my dog sat on things.

Who knows. Our relationship is complicated, but at least it isn’t boring.

9) What are some of your favourite past times with your pet?

Hands down, long walks and dog training.

I can give or take snuggles on the sofa, I actually prefer her to sit under my desk at my feet whilst I’m doing things. Or laying calmly  on “bed” whilst I prepare dinner or clean up the kitchen. I like the company of a dog that lays quietly out of the way.

That’s why training and long walks are where all the fun happens.

Disappointingly, this tag provides me no place to waffle on about all the irrelevent (and relevant) commands and tricks I’ve taught Dog.

I’ll just mention a few here because it always makes me smile to tell people of the silly things I have spent my unemployed life teaching my dog to do.

We’ve got the classics of course:

— sit, down, wait and come
— walk to heel (in a stay by my side and don’t wander off kind of way)
— let go/leave it (depending on the item, leave it is a unconditional “don’t touch it” command)
— go pee pee
— off you go (there’s no galavanting until I say so)
— bed (my generic, stay put on any blanket or mat until told otherwise)

We’ve got the semi-useful ones:

— get it (*points to item*, dog picks up item and brings it over)
— hold and bring it with you
— cover (because why not make down more complicated by getting behind my legs or under the bench we are sitting on)
— up, off and under (sometimes directions are needed)
— touch with nose (eventually she’ll be able to turn on the lights, but for now it also works to get her close to things she is unsure about and realise that they are just another stupid garden statue or a fire hydrant)
— go find Kris (AKA stop bothering me and go and bother Kris instead)

And we’ve got the totally pointless but no less fun ones

— sock (as in, please remove my socks for me)
— spin and twist (if you are going to turn, it might as well be in both directions)
— high five, high ten and wave
— middle (who doesn’t need a dog standing between their legs)
— back (take it from me, watching dogs walk backwards is always smile-worthy)
— get “Brian” (because there are times when I desperately need her to bring me a giant stuff broccoli)

There’s more, but I think I’ve buffed up my dog-ego quite enough for one day.

And done. Everything you may have wanted to know about Dog. Any more questions? Fire away! Maybe there’s a Dog-Face Q&A in your future if you ask enough questions. Oooh, possible Dog birthday post idea right there!

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The Chronicles of Moxie || Episode Two

Episode One: check.

Episode Two: checking it off right now.

This was when I started to see a bit of the funny side to puppyhood. Just a bit. Most of the time, I was knee-deep in poo bags, dog hair and a serious case of comparison-itis.

This spans our adventures from ten to twelve weeks old.

Let’s get started!

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The Chronicles of Moxie :: Episode Two

Or Doxie: if the dog school instructor is talking to her.

Or Maxie: because people keep assuming she is a boy and I guess that’s a more manly name.

Or T-Rex: because one time I was joking and the woman didn’t realise.

Whatever her name is, she is definitely alive, all 6.9kg-up-to-date-on-her-rabies-vaccine of her, and – I like to think – happy and well. I did have to Google “Is my puppy happy?” to double-check that claim, and I’m still suspicious when I can hear her belting out a bark (or ten) in the elevator as Kris takes her out to go pee-pee. I look forward to the days of complete bladder control and when a certain someone realises that you cannot call the elevator by the power of bark alone.

But, we are at the big twelve weeks! We are vaccinated, we have moved up to Puppy Class at the dog school (you know, the one where we have to do stuff) and we, dare I jinx it, might even be bonding now.

 So here it is: weeks ten to twelve, in puppy-themed anecdotes.

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Google it.

The most popular search term in the last two weeks: “Is my puppy the devil?”.

Closely followed by “does my puppy hate me?”, “why does my puppy love my husband more?” and the classic “is my puppy broken?”.

Oh and let’s not forget “I yelled at my puppy, will she hate me forever?”.

Turns out, the puppy is not broken (just an arsehole at times), she only turns into the Devil between 8:30 and 9:30pm which is solved by a biscuit and a helpful suggestion that someone needs to take her butt to “bed” and well, sometimes it’s OK to yell at the puppy because dammit, I am human and I really cannot afford to fix my camera.

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Dog school it.

Dog school has been eventful, frustrating and a lot of fun. Mostly, just eventful.

We finished our last Cubs Class (for the 8-12 week-ers) and, a certain someone, got told off. Again. In my head I imagined the interaction between her and the other fluffy-dude to go something like this: “Bow to me peasant, for I am Moxie: Queen of the Dogs!”. Or she was channelling her inner dog-feminist and going for something like “I fight for equality. I fight for more toys. More treats. Bigger toys. Toys that come in any colour but pink! Did I mention more treats? Also bigger treats!”. 

In reality she decided to take that little boy down with all available teeth and paws, and then wee on the instructor from the shock of suddenly being in the air. It was definitely not very lady-like. And she has officially been labelled as a lady who likes to “play hard”.

You know what they say: play hard or go home. Turns out, most of the puppies in class are the go home variety. Losers.

Now that we have moved up to the Puppy One Class, this has curbed some of her desire to transform into the Lady Of Light Galadriel and re-enact that scene from Lord Of The Rings yelling “all shall love me and despair!”. It’s good to be a middle-sized dog again, instead of one of the biggest puppies.

That and we also have ourselves a 20 minute walk before we even get to the dog school and, if we are lucky, a bit of time to run about in the play area before the other pups show up. It takes the edge off our energy so we run and play like everyone else instead of like we’ve just dropped a couple of grams of amphetamines (that is probably the most gangster thing I have ever said).

If that doesn’t ooze responsible dog owner I don’t know what does – that was a joke. I do know.

On the flip side, that was the only successful thing to happen at Puppy One. The rest of our first class was spent laying on our belly eating mud. Or licking the grass. Or licking the mud, Or staring at every dog she could lay eyes on and probably chanting “dogs! dogs! dogs!” in her head.

I keep personifying my dog. I know. I need more sleep. I know. 

No amount of sweet-talking or bribery was getting that girl to do anything other than get up to taste another morsel of mud. After 45 minutes, my sweet talking had progressed from “Moxie! Puppy! Puppy! Puppy!” to “park that butt on the floor you giant embarrassment”. In the end, we gave up with the clicker and treats and went for a stick instead, “oh! Now you can sit! What a shocking revelation, you little butthead”. All said in the sweetest and most positive of child-like voices, of course.

The one thing she did well was running straight to me when the instructor let her go. Luckily she heard my inner monologue of “don’t you dare nip my ankle as you run past me Kraken-face”.

On Monday morning, I pulled out the kibble, stood in front of the house (cars and distractions galore) and we got our training on. I told her she knew her stuff.

I am now referring to dogs as The Kraken’s distraction-kryptonite.

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It’s all Kris.

Of course, the Thursday evening class with Kris went great, because we have already established that she loves him more than me. They got promoted to Puppy Two, so it is now officially a competition between us. We have to progress through the dog school separately with Moxie as we both have membership.

Further proof that she loves Kris more includes when I went out for three hours on the weekend and left her with Kris. She didn’t even notice I was gone. Then we both left her for an hour and when we returned she only greeted Kris.

“Don’t mind me, I’ll just be over here picking up your poo, getting your dinner, training you, and walking you”. Pfft. Dogs.

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Me no comprende.

The Kraken has a special face that she reserves for crate time.

I say “in” and point helpfully to the bed in the crate. She smirks and says something like “Ik spreek geen engels”. To which I reply with “hahahaha… no”.

We have now changed it to “bed” and of course she just waltzes into the crate with a look of “well, you should have just said so”. I put my smartypants on for this cue though and attached it to the bed and not the crate, that way, when I take her and her bed places, I can still tell her to go to it.

Pats self on back. 

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The curse of strangers.

The biggest thing from the last two weeks is other people.

Other people who want to pat my dog on the head for no reason. Or call to her when we are training or walking by. The dude next door decided to stand and watch us training in the morning, then he proceeded to pat his leg and call my dog over, then he had the audacity to tell me she doesn’t listen! I almost yelled at him. But I saved that for another dude instead. I have a lot less patience at 7am.

Let’s not forget the drive-by petting, from a selection of people including a couple of joggers. Way to distract my pup. Idiots.

Oh and the woman who jogged past us and called to Moxie to chase her… I kid you not.

We’ve been bear-hugged by a child whilst the mother just stood there watching. People continue to shove their fingers in our face, stand on us when we are on the bus and my favourite of the last fortnight: the child walking behind us making weird noises, caught Moxie’s attention, she stopped (as a puppy does) and was almost trampled by the ten other kids walking with that child who weren’t looking where they were going. I had to whip her off the floor, much to her dislike, before she was seriously hurt.

The icing on cake? “Can I pet your dog?”. Uh, no.

Who are these people and why are they always out when I want to walk/train/or take my dog out for a poo?!

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Closing thoughts.

I have waffled on for long enough.

Don’t read this wrong, we are having a great time. It’s damn hard. But when it’s going good, it is going great.

When it isn’t, I’m still crying into my hamster whilst consulting Dr. Google and Kris is walking back from the bus stop bin at 3am with one slipper on because The Kraken has stolen the other.

On the flip-side, last night we all sat together on the sofa to watch some TV and The Kraken chose to lay beside me (OK, OK, it was literally on top of me) but I definitely felt something. She might even like me.

I think that’s everything. I must go, the Kraken woke up 15 minutes ago but has just decided that now is the time she wishes to be released from the crate. Time for some more “I don’t think so. I will let you out when I am ready” training.

Or more accurately “wait five minutes whilst I fill my pockets with poo bags, keys, treats and debate whether I should put my shoes on or not”.

Ah, puppyhood. You bring me smiles, squashed bags of poo in my pockets and the sudden realisation that I smell like a dog owner.

That’s it for Episode Two. I’m pretty excited for Episode Three already so stay tuned for that next week. Then I will chill with all the dog-talk. Airing my dirty-doggy-laundry is rather therapeutic though, so definitely expect more from our escapades. 

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The Chronicles of Moxie || Episode One

I have a confession to make.

It took me five weeks to fall in love with my puppy.

It then took me another two weeks to work up the brain power to actually get on the internet to tell you about it. Although, that’s a bit of an overstatement since I will just be quoting an update I wrote a few weeks back for the litter’s Facebook group. It’s a start, right? I’m easing myself back into the world wide web after being MIA for what seems like a millennia.

I don’t really have a long-winded explanation of why I’ve been gone, it can be summarised as follows: puppyhood is damn hard. Seriously. 

That and part of me was a little nervous to come here and admit that. I mean, it is the internet and I didn’t fancy having the metaphorical tomato thrown in my face with quips of “well, didn’t you do your research, you plonker”. I did. A butt-tonne of it. And that still did not prepare me for the realities of puppyhood.

You know what did help though, unsolicited dog advice and descriptions of Moxie’s breed characteristics from strangers. That really helped.

Not. 

I digress. Let’s get to the photos and a little update that I put together a while back detailing our time between Moxie’s arrival in our lives until around 11 weeks of age. Trust me, she is so much bigger now!

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The Chronicles of Moxie :: Episode One

We have achieved quite a bit in the last week or so – well, I think we have, but feel free to let me know if I am behind in my doggy training).

We have met, what feels like, all the people, including creepy drunk dudes, children who appear out of nowhere to pat us on the butt (Moxie’s butt, not mine) and well, pretty much anyone who goes past because they are all potential friends in the making according to Dog-Face. For dogs, it’s the same. Every new doggy is a friend-to-be. Dog-Face is yet to be deterred by the looks of dismay and mutters of “uh, kids these days” from elder dogs who just want to walk peacefully to the park on a Sunday afternoon and not engage with today’s youths.

Leaves are the best. thing. ever. Especially when blowing in the wind. We must investigate and carry around leaves and branches at all times. No compromise. The bigger the better.

We have already started going to the dog school to attend their Cubs Class and so far, so good, even if she got told off for trying to wrestle a giant 11-week-old Labrador into playing with her. Turns out, “knock it off” sounds the same in all languages. You know what they say, little ones have spongy brains, they just soak everything up. I, on the other hand, just hope no-one calls on me to answer a question or go first before I have had a chance to watch someone else do it first so I have a vague sense of what’s going on.

We are also getting better at riding the bus. A little crying to start, then once we’re comfortable, we are good to go. We’re still working on the bike trailer, so far, we are doing laps around the garage like a pro, but we’ve yet to venture out into the big wide world. Slow and steady is how we are rolling.

What else is there to report: we ride in the elevator fine, we played in a giant pile of loud plastic that other day and we even went out to play in the rain and thunder too. All that left me with was a very wet puppy who’s only goal in life was to wrestle the poor towel to death.

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The stuffed Kong has become my best friend. Every time we need to do something which needs her to hold still/be in something (the trailer, brushing… etc) out comes the Kong. Failing that, we do everything over mealtimes, because who doesn’t enjoy a constant stream of kibble when they are doing good things!

Things we have worked on this week: getting comfortable with being handled with lots of meal times spent having our ears, teeth and toes checked, our tail wiggled, our hair ruffled and just about anything else that might happen should we meet anymore strange people. It’s a good job, since we have already come across more than one person whose idea of “petting” is to just pat her on the head likes she’s a hairy basketball.

Other things include: Eye contact with her name (getting there!), a bit of sitting, some down (and then extending the time), some waiting for things like toys/food. A bit of this and that. She really seems to enjoy a working lunch and already looks expectantly at me when I have the tub of food and the clicker. I have a sneaking suspicion though that the toy is far for motivating to her though, so that adds a little more fun to playing.

If we aren’t brain training, we like to eat dinner out of the food-ball. Now that we’ve worked out that paws help get the food out, it’s a lot more fun!

Our vaccinations were a success, she even left with a compliment from the vet for being so easy to handle.

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We are enjoying her alter ego as The Kraken. When playtime is over, or we have to go to bed, oh there are tantrums. My girl can tantrum like the most experienced toddler. Slowly she is realising that it gets her nowhere, but for two/three days, I was 100% sure I had accidentally released Hyde into the world.

Oh, and let’s not forget the alter ego The Piranha too. We are slowly learning to play with our mouth shut.

Slowly.

I consider myself grateful that she has yet to chew anything she shouldn’t. Probably because everything is hidden in cupboards and up in places even I can’t get to, but I am still considering that a success. I’ve only lost a book, a pair of jeans and my boots.

Puppyhood is difficult and challenging. We are learning everyday. Even if The Kraken did bring me to tears one evening – full on weeping into my hamster about how easy and simple he is to take care of and did he have any idea what I had gotten myself into (spoiler alert: he didn’t really care) – the next day she brings me to tears of laughter. It’s an emotional rollercoaster and I suspect there might be a grey hair or two under my hair dye.

Things to work on this week and next: fewer tantrums. Always the house training (we are still hoping for a sign that says “hey! I gotta go pee pee”) and maybe a visit to the lake to see the ducks. Oh and consistently getting the collar back on without Moxie thinking it’s a new form of playtime.

Here’s to another week or so of poo bags, preventing her eating dead frogs, playtime, nap time (for both of us!) and with any luck, no more riding the bus to dog school!

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I know this isn’t a real blog post as such, but I hope you enjoyed it all the same. Maybe I have over shared, maybe it is taboo to tell you all about our doggy-dilemmas, but hey, if it brings a chuckle to your day, I’m game for sharing. Do share all your puppyhood success and pain with me! 

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