Ah the joys of puppyhood!  Again!

Our sweet little girl is the picture of delight.  She finds fascination with all things outside in her marvelous new world, and she finds toys galore inside, although she seems to think the big dogs are at her disposal to further meet her entertainment needs.

Not long ago, I ran across an image of a puppy chasing a butterfly.  It seemed a bit puppy-fantastical.  Most of mine have not taken an interest in butterflies.  But there was Banner, mesmerized by a butterfly when she found one, chasing it gently and batting at it.  I felt a bit sorry for her at that time, knowing that there was little left of summer and butterflies, but then fall arrived, with leaves stirring and sweeping across the yard, something new and fascinating for a Newfoundland puppy to chase.

Banner is a unique individual, with her own creativity and imagination.  She shares genetics with Banker and Parker, and this has been clear as I’ve observed her growing and learning.  It is fascinating to see her doing things that I had forgotten about, as though I thought I could never forget such things!  And I’ve already forgotten some of these!  Some were visible in her toy choices, or in what amuses her.  She has a delightful yawn, and she makes a pleasant vocalization that conveys her happiness and the satisfaction.  Banker did this too, a very charming memory that I don’t expect to forget.

Like Banker, she prefers to do her own shopping and the recycling area is one of her favorite resources.  She likes to swipe an empty plastic bottle, then trot quickly into the living room with it, bat it around then chew on it.  She also loves to play with an empty water bucket, banging and clanging it as she carries it and bats it around.  Water buckets that she has access to are usually empty, sometimes spilled but more often consumed.

Like Parker, she loves noise-makers, but like Banker, she loves to remove noise-makers from toys and does this very quickly.  She prefers to pull the giggle box out of the giggle toys and bat that around.  Her favorite toy was a purple fuzzy wild thing, a small ball-shaped pile covered toy that made noise and “popped up” after it was compressed.  She loved to feign terror when the toy popped up!  She would give that wild expression, run away as fast as she could, then spin around and bark at it.  Then she would bring it back for me to compress again, and do this over and over again.  That toy finally endured a little too much “crunching” by a puppy.  The Toy Master sent some toys for Halloween, though, that were a good substitute:  Gremlin Toy.

Banner is a very bright-minded puppy, quick and very studious.  She observes the big dogs and learns from them.  By doing this, she did her first directed retrieve the second time she was in the water, before we had made an effort to train her.  She studies us.  She examines expressions intently and looks directly into your eyes to see what you’re thinking, or to convey something of interest to her, for instance, that she wants to go out, she wants more water (and she always wants more water), when she’s ready for her next meal or when she wants to play.  She is good at entertaining herself at times, but there are times, not always convenient to what you are doing, that she wants your undivided attention.  And since we’re building that relationship, it is important that her request is fulfilled for some of these communications, and that she learns to be patient at other times.

She’s a bit more “in-your-face” than the boys, more bold in some ways, more insistent when she is argumentative.  As with Parker, when she wants to see what you are doing, and she always wants to see what you are doing, she walks up and stands in the middle or stands with her face in close proximity.  That might not be difficult, if it weren’t for her temptation to use her teeth for her entertainment!  Fortunately, her teething/mouthing phase, which seemed like a long time at that time, resolved rather quickly.

She’s a licker too!  That tongue moves at the speed of light, and it is automatic.  If the big dogs are within reach, she is licking – their face, their chins, their ears, and Parker’s elbows.  I have to watch closely to keep her from being helpful and keep the custom-made jeans on Parker.

Her favorite sleeping position is upside-down, bare belly exposed, all four feet in the air.

She is a brave girl under most circumstances, and she learns quickly.  She decided that the blow-dryer was a good thing by the 2nd or 3rd bath.  But the vacuum cleaner is a horrible monster!  With most puppies, one or the other is a villain, depending on your perspective about the direction of air movement, I suppose.  <g>  Holly also thought the vacuum cleaner was a villain.  Holly is not closely related to Banker, Parker or Banner; she is a great-great-great aunt, but I can even see some of Holly’s traits in Banner too.  One time when Banner was lying on the rug taking a nap, it caught my breath how much she looked like Holly at that age!

Another family trait seems to be hiccups, especially after being threatened by a villain or startled and terrified by something unexpected, like the baby gate falling next to you onto a hardwood floor.  I thought, given that reaction and her subsequent distrust of the baby gate, she may not challenge it when we began to move her from the crate to the bedroom, keeping her in the short hallway next to the bedroom door with baby gates at the doorways.  Not so!  Just like Banker and Parker, she sailed across, so that we had to stack two baby gates on top of each other.

The first few months, as puppies grow, they become aware of their growing strength and their relative size.  This doesn’t bode well for a Boston Terrier who is less than 30 lbs.  He tried to intimidate her, Boston Terrorizer style, when she first arrived, to show her that her interest in his bed, his room, his water dish, his food dish were not welcome.  She didn’t take him seriously.  Plus, she continued to grow.  It wasn’t long before the fierce resistance turned into an expression that said “please protect me from this hellion.”  Then, as she grew a bit bigger, he began to look at her as he had Jade – a “mom”, someone with a big warm coat to get friendly with when it was cold outside.  (“Cold” means something different to a Boston Terrier, whose comfort range is approximately 68 – 72 F.)  Banner, however, began to look at Corky as a toy, to be batted around with her paws.

When Banner first arrived, I had to supervise Jade because her enthusiasm for someone to play with was so great.  I didn’t want Banner to be hurt by an excited very large adult who had retreated joyously to puppyhood.  Banner often insisted on play, and it was Jade’s turn to provide ear targets to the new kid on the block.  Jade tried playing gently, but Banner played furiously and with insistence, grabbing at Jade’s ears.  Jade would mouth-play, gently, arching her neck like a dragon, to which Banner would respond by rapid fire attack on Jade’s ears.  Jade tried pinning her, but Banner just looked at that as more play.  She finally gathered that Banner was not tuned in to feedback, and that the risk was hers.  She didn’t want to be rude and often took the approach of not reacting in an effort to tone down the activity level.  This became her norm, Jade would freeze, motionless, often when she was in a doorway, so that no one else could pass.  We began to refer to Banner as Billy Goat Gruff, as she would run to the door when Jade was coming in or going out.

As with Parker, and Jade, and most puppies, late evenings are the time of day when their growing self-control is challenged, not the best time for training or for playing with the other Newfs.

Parker had determined early from her arrival that he would need to be firm with his instruction when she misbehaved, and she seemed to believe him and not challenge him.  He has never been a good disciplinarian, but at this age, it was a good choice.  Jade endured about 2-3 months of adolescent terror before she decided to “set her straight”.  But at that point, Banner wasn’t convinced.  Jade began tuning her out, not interacting with her in any way.

Parker had also begun treating her with complete disinterest.  Whenever he picked out a toy, usually a Giggle toy, an Angry Bird, the ABC toy, or something that had a sound associated with it, Banner would sieze an opportunity in a run-by to swipe the toy.  When she was misbehaving, she was segregated to her own area, outside of the immediate social zone.  Eventually, this treatment appeared to lead to some adjustment on Banner’s part.  She is growing up, and treating the adults with more respect.  The Boston Terrier is still a curiosity.  And now that she is behaving with more respect, the big dogs are beginning to invite her attention, a little at a time, with some reservation.

Growing up doesn’t happen quickly.  There will be ups and downs, backslides and impressive successes.  But the learning curve is in good shape, and we’re looking forward to more fun in 2014!

Banner 12/1/13

Banner 12/1/13

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