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  • Writer's pictureJane Wheeler

A Few Minutes With Miss Mocha & Me

She is like me, not the best in pictures!

Oh, my she is growing! My little 11 lb ball of fluff has grown into a 25 lb ball of high energy and speed and she is not near finished growing!

She is a full-fledged puppy and there are days when I cannot keep up. I am being honest here, at times when she lays down to nap, I’m hopping on the couch grabbing a few Z’s in the middle of the day.

I am so thankful we kennel trained her because this mommy at times needs to initiate time-out for both our protection!

Mocha is now 3 and a half months old, full stage teething, and we at times wonder if she is really a beaver in a dog disguise as she finds trees, sticks, my raspberry and blue berry bushes, gyproc, coffee tables, and basically anything made from wood as a way to add fibre to her diet.

This past week we have added toilet paper and Kleenex to the mix and there is nothing like walking around the corner to find your roll of toilet paper streaming down the stairs still attached to the roll in the bathroom upstairs and a fluffy brown ball wrapped up in it and chewing delightedly like life could not get any better, except of course if it had been a much-coveted sock.

We get more kisses than bites now which is a relief for all concerned and especially for my hands as they now do not look like they messed with a barbed wire fence from all the razor-sharp teeth scrapes.

I know some of you will understand this desire to have these additions to our families despite the above incidents. There is nothing like feeling the love of these little creatures from their puppy kisses to the warmth of them cuddled against your body to looking into their little eyes and seeing only genuine love radiating back at you.

You walk in the door and there is someone who is so excited to see you, their tail is pumping so fast their little body shakes and it is not only because they have to go out to pee, they just love being with you.

Even in the frigid temperatures we just came through Mocha loves the outdoors. You will find her sitting and watching the birds, her head bobbing back and forth as the birds fly from the feeder to the trees. Last week I watched as she ran in circles chasing her own tail for approximately 20 minutes.

I have to admit some bad mommy behaviour, on our first cold (like minus 40) day, I was sitting watching Mocha do her business and then she started to do this little weird dance thing. I thought it was so cute and I was giggling away as she threw out a paw and kind of jumped at the same time. It took me only a minute to understand that she was reacting to her paws being frozen in the extreme cold. I threw open the door and hauled her in feeling horrible that I thought being frozen was a fun thing.

I lost it on her one day in the car I am ashamed to say. It was only a 10 minute drive across town and she had been riding with Brian in his truck the day before. His truck does not have a “back” seat, it has a partial back seat where Mocha can sit and be level with us, laying her head down on the consul but her body in the back. In my car – there is space between the back seat and the front seat and she does not seem to like that space. She hops up with her sharp little claws on my leather seats and consul and tries to get on my lap while I am driving. She had never done anything like that before. Of course, I am trying to push her back and saying “No, No! Get in the back!” and see her claws scratch along my consul, it did not maketh me a happy camper. I shouted at her very loudly, loosing my cool, to “stop and get in the back” and you know she did. Probably more out of fear of this wild woman in the front. I felt so horrible that I had yelled like that it was not good!

I am finding that as I am training Mocha, she is training me and we are learning together much about behaviour.

For instance, yelling “No, No, NO, NOOOO” really is not helpful.

If I have to repeat a command – it ceases to be useful. “Come here, Come here, come here and come here” becomes a command to ignore and a game.

If I want my dog to “come here” and do it now, I have to find the motivator for the action and let me tell you it is always FOOD.

The day after my 10 minute horrible drive we had our vet appointment half an hour away. I was not looking forward to a repeat of the drive the day before, so I first watched a puppy training video. Turns out I only had to reward her for being “good”. She would lay down quietly in the back and I would give her a couple pieces of her dog food. Then in a few more minutes while she was still quiet, I would give her a bit more. I did this probably 10 times on the trip out there and she was excellent the whole way. On the way back I only had to do it a couple times and she was excellent the whole way!

Lessons I’ve learned from Mocha:

Behavior is taught by reward, in her case food and praise. It truly is not that much different than with people. We all work for reward and praise.

I have found that Mocha can be calmed with a calming voice, tone and presence (most of the time). I can see her melt into calmness with a gentle ear rub and a gentle voice. My friend who works with the elderly is a pro at this, she said this is what she has to practice daily in the Seniors home as well. Again it works well both for people and pets.

Do not ignore a little whine, or hop and jump over to the door – it will only create a mess if ignored. People can be like that as well – many people whine and head for the way out. Perhaps if we stopped what we were doing and gave them a couple minutes of our time, we could avert a few messes.

When she gets scared Mocha runs quickly back to myself or Brian to stay close and feel safe. I find when I am scared or upset, I get right clingy with Jesus and stay there until I feel that He has “got this” and I am fine to trust Him with it.

Mocha does not get everything she wants, it is sometimes not good for her. This is the same rule for people.

Oh, I just discovered Mocha cannot handle her liquor. Yesterday she was acting so weird. She raced inside ran smack into a glass door and then headed for another glass door and ran right into it. I realized that the 2 days of wind we had had brought down some of the fermented crab apples still sitting at the top of the tree, too high to reach. The apples now have a fermented quality about them and the birds love to peck at these apples as well. I guess Mocha had eaten a few of these apples and the affect was cause for a "nap time" before she met any other doors. I ran outside and picked up any remnants off the ground.

Mocha and I have a long time yet to learn more lessons as we go, but one other thing I have learned is that life is learned a step at a time both for Mocha and me. Not a run, leap or dash – one step now, then the next, it is a calm and steady pace with lots of learning along the way, throw in a couple reward treats and some praise and all is good for both of us!

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