Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Jumpin’ Jack Flash

jack tennis ball

We’ve named our new Australian shepherd puppy Jack after much discussion and thought.

I don’t think “Jack” when I look at him, but I now realize I want to call all dogs “Buddy,” so I’m sure it will start to feel natural soon.

We expected Jack would keep us up most of the night with whining and crying over being separated from his mother and siblings. We were wrong.

He carried on for about 20 minutes Sunday night with the most amazing repertoire of vocalizations, ranging from a whimper to a whine to a moan to several indescribable sounds and finally a full-throated howl. But then he fell silent and slept until about 3 a.m. when he stirred and signaled a need to do some business in the back yard. Maria took him out, he did his thing and then went back into his crate with no complaints.

I took him out again about 5:30 a.m.

He went to bed last night with just the slightest complaint and woke me about 2:45 a.m. with a strange moaning sound that reminded me of the talking cats on America’s Funniest Videos. Maria, who jealously guards her sleep, quickly volunteered to take him out, even though it was pouring rain. It was unclear whether he did both jobs for her, so when he spoke again about an hour later, I pulled on my waterproof camo pants and jacket and Gore-Tex boots and stood in the cold November rain while he pounced and bounded around the yard, maybe pausing to make a deposit.

He slept soundly until the alarm went off at 6:30 a.m.

Our expectations of Aussie puppy behavior were shaped by our experience with Pete. But Pete left home at about 6 weeks, whereas Jack comes to us at 11 1/2 weeks. That and his showdog pedigree make for a much more confident, poised, and calm puppy.

After less than 48 hours with us, he’s confident using the dog door as long as we hold the flap up for him. I expect he’ll do it all by himself by the end of this week.

He looks to us and to Pete for cues and Pete has obliged by taking the alpha dog position he formerly ceded to Ruthie. He’s issued a couple of firm corrections when Jack tried to eat first or beg table scraps. Jack tries hard to get Pete to play, taunting him with tennis balls and the Friendly Fox (as seen on TV), but Pete so far has refused to get involved.

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