Man Down!! (everybody laugh)

On Saturday I was at work and so poor Amy found herself in charge of Atlas duty.

He is both of ours and so this usually isn’t a problem, we take turns in walking him, and this usually goes without any problems.

We both train him the same way and walk out daily with the most fabulous bum bag (also affectionately known and the fanny pack) which is stuffed with tasty treats to ensure we train at every possible opportunity.

If anyone ever tells you that teaching a dog to “heel” is easy … they are lying and absolutely not worth listening to. Its gruelling and awful and nine times out of ten doesn’t work! it is THE most frustrating task Amy and I have ever had to overcome, and I’m fairly certain that every other owner of a head strong pup will agree. Atlas is nearly 11 months old and we have been preaching the same old story since he was 8 weeks old. believe me when I tell you this that two seconds of sense after a “watch me” or “with me command” can really lull you into a false sense of “he’s finally cracked it and we will walk politely”, you’ve nailed I, you have a slack lead and your enjoying your walk, you finally relax and then BAM out of nowhere that pesky Autumn leaf floats past and its lost, your back to hanging onto a crazed dinosaur with all your might trying to gain some control so that every passer by doesn’t point and laugh at the huge German shepherd with a floppy ear playing with the leaves with the stressed out human attached.

So, I return from work to find Atlas in the kitchen and Amy in a deflated heap on the couch. She then proceeds to tell me that he’s been the devil on their walk and that he’s in the kitchen to calm down (I’m not convinced she used the word devil and possible had a few choice words to call him, I guess that made her feel better). she then proceeds to tell me the story.

They were walking in the park and all was going well until our delightful pup decided he wanted to go and play with another dog. He proceeded to drag poor Amy, who at this point was struggling to hold on as he was like an unexploded bomb on a lead, over to said dog through a wet patch of grass. She slipped and down she went. She’s now on the floor, in the mud with Atlas still desperate to play with the passing dog.

Well not really sure how to take in this information and obviously knowing how she felt as it wasn’t so long ago the great oaf ran after a pigeon at top speed and sent me flying across the field on the end of a lunge line, to which he did come back rather quickly but was so excited with the whole affair he lost his mind and tried to hump me whilst I was on the floor, luckily for me the local football team weren’t practicing that day,  I obviously didn’t laugh (in front of her) but asked if anyone had come to help her up …. the answer was a definitive no and that the people around just looked at her like the village idiot who has a dog she cant only stay upright when holding on to but cant control at all in public. We’ve all been there!

Poor Amy, I think she has now forgiven him and made friends with him but I’m going to guess it’ll be me on park duty for a little while until our angel can practice some self control, Its ok you can laugh now!

Subsequently I was intrigued as to how much he now weighs. At last count he was 34kgs and that wasn’t so long ago so off I trundled on Sunday with Atlas in tow to the local pets at home and asked to use the scales, on he sits proud as punch and I watch as the numbers go up and up.

Here’s where they finally stopped …

atlas

That’s 37.8kg, 83.3 lbs and 5.95 stone

No wonder he had her over, the massive tank, maybe we should do a pool at what weight we think hell finish on haha !!

Advertisements

He’s finally learning to relax

Relaxation is not a strong point of Atlas’ actually come to think of it, relaxation doesn’t really mix very well in our house.

Atlas can usually be found bounding around our living room pretending the floor is lava or just generally being a goof. Yesterday he threw his toy with that much force across the room that it almost sent the television rocketing to the moon. As I’ve mentioned previously, his newest most favourite pastime is the dreaded digging, we, in our naivety had thought that has ceased. Boy were we wrong.

However recently he has learnt that whining and singing doesn’t get him any attention and he is learning that having the odd afternoon snooze is quite a nice hobby.

Here is Atlas this afternoon managing a five minute lie down whilst Amy ate her lunch in peace.

Atlas

 

He thinks he’s a fog horn

Atlas is now nearing the 11 months stage …. Amy and I are counting down the days to his very first birthday. Also a very big celebration that she and I actually made it through the first year of sharing our lives with Atlas without A. losing our minds or B. selling him on Ebay. Of course with the age that he is comes certain challenges as with all babies as they reach the teenage milestone.

  1. Atlas is stroppy, not aggressive or mean, just stroppy. We say no to him and he literally throws himself on the floor in defiance, yep .. he’s a super fun guy !
  2. He tests us every minute of every day. He whines, a lot, usually when he wants something he cant have, another delightful reminder that there’s a teenager in the house, if you cant see him, you can usually hear him.
  3. He humps. He’s nearing the 6 stone mark now so thank goodness he hasn’t mastered the balance to actually hump a humans leg because that would make for very awkward conversation and more than likely result in the poor un-expecting human being knocked flying, but usually his bed or favourite stuffed toy gets it.
  4. Zooming ! everyone who has had a puppy will be familiar with the late night zoomies. all very cute when your teeny tiny fluff monster is flying around the house at super sonic speed, however not so hot when your ten month old baby elephant comes hurtling towards your freshly made brew at 11pm at night with the “crazy eyes”.
  5. The digging has started. My flower beds currently look like they’re part of an archaeological dig.
  6. Goodbye skirting boards. for the past few weeks our very own Picasso has worked wonders with our kitchen skirting boards. apparently having to wait until 7:35 for his breakfast instead of the usual 7:30 is not good enough and so his little nasher’s go to work on stripping wood.
  7. He’s scared of the dark! He saw a fox once at the bottom of the garden … it terrified him. He now refuses to go for a wee at night unless Amy or I stand with him. All well and good if its a nice warm evening, but in the very cold October temperatures usually accompanied by torrential rain, I can assure standing outside in your dressing gown and slippers shouting “wee wees” really isn’t the most favoured task in our house!

Now all of the above put aside, he is starting to come on very well. He is listening to commands more and we have almost mastered the art of walking to heal without having to pull Amy or I to the next tree at great speed. I even managed to walk him with a baby in a pram last weekend after babysitting for a friend.

He has developed one issue that we are trying very hard to overcome.

He’s lead reactive towards dogs.

He’s always been fairly vocal, I mean I can remember taking him to his first training session in my arms at 8 weeks old and he brought the house down with his high pitched yapping. So it wasn’t a huge shock when this arrived however it really hasn’t been helped with my anticipation of the scenario.

He sees a dog and then all of a sudden turns into a raving lunatic. Barking, pulling, squealing etc. You can imagine drama. People automatically see German shepherd and have a predisposed idea that he’s a nightmare so that doesn’t help, plus my tensing and getting upset instead of nipping it in the bud and managing his emotions. So, the day of our weekly training after a little summer break when it was closed I was anxious all day so when it came to the actual session I was a dithering wreck and Atlas was on pins.

He was barking and not focused and stress and oh it was just terrible. I was an emotional wreck and cried twice and he was just in meltdown. The trainer explained that he was feeding off my emotions and I just needed to take a breath and calm down he’s just venting frustration and he’s over excited.

After that day we introduced a clicker … and what a difference. I am not saying that he has changed overnight, he still barks and we have not let him greet another dog yet because he hasn’t actually managed to calm down when near another dog but it has only been a couple of weeks. Once he starts to relax and focus on us when near other dogs then we will start introductions, the phrase adding fuel to the fire comes to mind.

He needs to learn some self control but I especially also need to learn how to manage the situation and to just enjoy his company rather than worrying. This happened last night and we only had one blip. it was a squeak rather than a bark and he soon went back to his normal self, we then went and sat at the main road for fifteen minutes to watch the traffic. Again very important with a reactive dog as Id rather he didn’t dart off after every motorbike, or car that splashes in a puddle. This time he didn’t flinch and just lay down to watch the world go by.

We are persevering … but it’ll take time. I keep having to be reminded that he is only a baby and he is trying so hard. Its just we as humans sometimes expect too much too quickly. They’re brains cope with so much and I think the human world just overloads things for them.

DSC_0859DSC_0818

Atlas vs Child

Parents with children who decide to get a puppy and don’t lose their shit in the process … I applaud you.

Amy and I don’t have children, remember … we are the “cool aunts” we try to convince ourselves that the kids love us because we don’t have kids and they can colour their eyebrows in with pink felt tip and stay up late but in fact its probably just because we have a toy box. A toy box filled with toys the kids have never seen before and don’t have to share because there isn’t anyone else to share with.

So to conclude, we are the cool aunts.

We also have an Atlas.

Not the fun coloured, spinning educational type, that the parents of said children would probably appreciate, no, an 8 month old giant missile that weighs more than three children put together.

Yes … the fun kind of Atlas.

Now before Atlas came home, Amy and I have become accustomed to a more gentler way of life, with a female dog that was probably as old as your nana. She was not interested in the kids what so ever, she didn’t want their food, their noisy Thomas train nor their bikes and scooters, she absolutely was not interested in being present for a game of hairdressers or having her nails painted. If the kids were there, Jasmine was in hiding and that’s what she liked.

She did actually take part in a re-enactment of Frozen once and played the part of Sven the reindeer because, and I quote “We need a life sized prop”, no she wasn’t as big as a reindeer but she played it very well.

Take us forward to present day and we have Atlas.

Atlas is super friendly, over friendly in fact. I’ve only ever heard him growl once and that was due to a fountain shooting up from the floor and almost taking his top jaw off. I’ve got to hand it to the guy it probably was a very big shock. Atlas loves everyone, the problem we have with Atlas is that he does everything at super sonic speed.

With adults, I’m sure that’s no problem, they get the “please ignore him until he calms down” and we all go about our business, until the children arrive and that’s when the party starts. He has stolen socks of children, stolen shoes off children, ruined a game of soldiers because he’s either knocked the soldiers down or eaten them, sat on them, literally squashed them and then the inevitable, sent them flying. I don’t mean just made them lose their balance, I mean actually sent them flying.

It doesn’t matter how much you say, please stay calm, don’t run, don’t scream his name and head off in the other direction … kids don’t learn, and quite honestly if I had a giant dinosaur thundering towards me at super sonic speed and someone told me to stand still and be calm, Id be hot footing it the opposite direction too whilst shouting some very choice words at the crazy person telling me to stand there.

I get it …

There’s the older child, she’s Twelve and Atlas loves her. She has the ability to comprehend that where Atlas is concerned, at the moment, calm is better. They go on adventures and watch films and just generally manage to coexist quite happily. she strokes him, she feeds him, she cant walk him yet but she gives it a good go. All in all there’s a beautiful friendship blossoming.

~Atlas and Darcey

There’s the middle girl, she’s a little smaller but isn’t in the slightest bit bothered by Atlas and his crazy antics. She’s only seven so we have to be careful but she’s pretty good with him. He respects her which is always good but then again that might be because she wants to do things with him. She generally complains that he’s in her way, he’s usually sat right on top of her to be fair. Or that she cant see the TV, again he’s usually sat in front of her and because he’s a very similar size to her their heads are at the same height. Again … all in all slightly more stressful than the older one but not bad considering Atlas is such a giant goof ball.

Ava and Atlas

And then there are the boys.

The boys range from six to just turned four and there are three of them. Atlas thinks they are the best thing since sliced bread. They scream, they run, they play on bikes and scooters and put up a great game of chase. They play with toys that make loud noises and have cars that shoot around the living room. Sounds great doesn’t it, I cant blame him, occasionally I feel the need to join in. Until we have discounted little humans who have to be pulled out from underneath the puppy before they start to suffocate or very upset little people because the bike tyre has gone down due to mysteries chew holes.

Who am I trying to Kid … its carnage, its the clash of the titans all over again. We have taken to Atlas being attached to me on a house lead to ensure that no children are harmed in the “visit Amy and Sophie” day. He eventually calms down but kids come first, now we know these kids will go home and so we don’t feel so bad that whilst he’s learning he isn’t let lose on them, how on earth people manage with children and a puppy that live in the same house 24/7 I do not know, all I can say is well done to you!

We do have the odd moment of utter cuteness …

Noah and Atlas

We are obviously aware (or secretly praying) that he will calm down and we try not to hide him away from them because the children and Atlas need to learn to be together shutting him away and not continuing our lives as we would, would only exasperate the situation and then maybe one day there will be a child living in the house, what would we do then? The bottom line is he has to learn not to react to the children and the children have to learn how to respect the dog.

We have a long road ahead but we are trying to subject Atlas to everything and everyone to enable him to become a well rounded member of the family. He comes to as many places with us as we can take him and has training sessions frequently (not that his obedience is getting any better).

The main part is he is a baby and is still learning, but in the interim, jokes aside we are very cautious of what situations we put him in where children are concerned, mainly due to his size. That’s our responsibility isn’t it? To ensure the children don’t get hurt and become frightened but to teach them how to be kind and to have respect which will then hopefully enable them to have their very own best friend when they’re a little older.

Please, any tips on how you deal with high energy clashes between children and puppies is much appreciated.

p.s. no children were harmed in the making of Atlas vs Child !

 

 

 

We chose Atlas …

Hopefully by now you will have read the previous blog about how we ended up being in contact with our lovely breeder and his family with their delightful country house in the abyss.

I have to just mention that initially we were very aware that the poor the breeder and his wife clearly couldn’t quite work out the dynamics of the two women who had just arrived at his home late and a little disgruntled. It became quite obvious that they were trying to comprehend whether one was wanting a puppy and the other had gone for moral support and advice or whether they were in fact a couple. Of course they were polite and never asked the question however I have noticed the same look a few times, whether it be training class, vets visits or just out walking with a misbehaving Jumbo Jet on a lead !!

You have the family with the nice car “oh that puppy went to a family with a range rover” or the wife who is a vet “oh that puppy went to the lady who’s a vet” Atlas is “the puppy with the two mums”. Of course there is absolutely no animosity but it is interesting to watch the faces of people who are trying to understand the makings of a less traditional family.

Now if you haven’t ever seen a litter of puppies close up then you cant fully appreciate the feeling of pure emotion that comes over you, and yes before you say it, you are right baby dogs absolutely make me much more broody than baby people! Atlas was one of originally eleven puppies born, unfortunately three didn’t make it and so there were eight. Eight bundles of pure loveliness shuffling around their crate like tiny seals looking for their next meal. Their eyes had just opened and so they looked like someone had just taken a picture with the flash too close and their eyes hadn’t had time to adjust.

Beyond the squinting eyes and the lack of coordination, there in front of us was effectively our future best friend (or so we thought). So the breeder at this point is very proudly passing us puppies and showing us the little girl that they were keeping and one puppy that had already been reserved, Mowgli.

I think I previously mentioned that there were only boys to choose from because this was mums last litter and they wanted the girl who was already named Ember. I was at this point quite insistent that I wanted a big dog with as long a coat as possible, we had already had long coat and that was what we liked.

As I was quietly trying to figure out which puppy was which (im sure you can empathise that is is quite difficult to tell puppies apart at that age) he announces, and I quote “Now this big guy is my favourite … look at the size of him” and presented us with the most divine little face I have ever seen. He was slightly bigger than the rest and was significantly fuzzier than the others also but in all honesty my initial wants had gone completely and I just wanted to snuggle this little monster and not put him down.

They say dogs choose their owners and as soon as I held him he looked straight at me, tilted his tiny little head backwards howled and then snuggled in for a snooze. At this point I was delirious and took that as a sign that he had chosen us … now knowing Atlas it is evident that it wasn’t at all fate and was just his prodigious personality shining through even then.

You will be please to know that I did let Amy have a hold before announcing to the breeder that he was the one we wanted to share the next decade with, evidently not realising that I was never to have a cup of tea on my sofa ever again and that we were going to have to very quickly have to learn how to deal with public embarrassment due to our new puppy fancying himself the class clown, of course we wouldn’t really change him for the world ! We chose the tiniest little blue velcro collar that I’m fairly certain came from the craft section at the range and popped it on his neck to make sure that he didn’t get mixed up with the others, were told that we could collect him on the 18th January and that if we wanted to pop back to see him we were welcome any time which we did of course take him up on …  and so our story began.

 

 

Baby Atlas – The day we fell in love

Atlas2Atlas1Atlas3Atlas4