Bailey discovers squirrels

It’s Saturday and therefore time for some lazy non-science blogging, especially since after I finish this post I’m going to bury myself in grant writing. Multiple grant deadlines are approaching, and, given that most of my grant support expires towards the middle of next year, I have to go full tilt to keep my lab funded and keep my people employed. Such is how it will be throughout most of 2009 until I obtain some more funding.

As I mentioned nearly weeks ago, we have a new six month old puppy named Bailey. He’s definitely changed our life in a lot of good ways. One thing that I’ve noticed is that when he first arrived here from the shelter he was very quiet, submissive, and mellow. Or so it seemed. However, it didn’t take long for his true personality to reveal itself, and it turns out that he’s actually exhaustingly energetic (well, he is a six-month-old puppy), very intelligent, and more than a little strong-willed. Although he appears to be finally (mostly) house trained (at least, it’s been a few days since any “accidents” and he does now–usually–go to the back door when he needs to relieve himself), there were more a few bumps along the way, and occasionally Bailey went a bit full mental jacket, requiring a little Dog Whisperer or Victoria Stilwell action on him. For a while, we despaired that the methods weren’t working because we could see no effect, but then one day, almost like switching on a light, Bailey seemed to start to “get it” and accept us as dominant. That’s not to say that he doesn’t sometimes still have a little rebellious moment, but they are now usually rapidly overcome. He is, however, scary smart, probably the smartest dog I’ve had since an incredibly smart terrier my family had when I was a teenager; if only we were more competent at harnessing that intelligence to train him.

Overall, Bailey’s a great dog, but he still has a way to go before he’s a good canine citizen. For one thing, he has a bit of a problem with liking to chew various cloth things. (Actually, it’s more than a bit of a problem; excuse me for a moment while I correct him for trying to chew on the rug by our back door…OK, I’m back.) Unlike Echo, who learned this lesson very quickly, he is also much more persistent in learning that he is not allowed to jump on tables to get food or jumping on people who are eating, which means (for the moment, at least) he often ends up in the crate during mealtime when he refuses to listen, after which he usually goes straight to sleep.

One thing that really helped with his rebelliousness was our getting our yard fenced in. Even though my wife would walk him once a day, sometimes for more than an hour, it turns out that that’s not enough. Bailey needs periods of time to run full-out like a maniac. I’m not a runner; my endurance trying to run with him on a walk is far too short, but in the yard I can get him chasing the ball for long periods of time until he basically collapses in exhaustion. My wife bought him a rubber playground ball, which it took him less than a half hour to puncture and deflate; now he trots around the yard with it in a display most comical. Unfortunately, he hasn’t yet figured out two things. First, he doesn’t reliably bring the ball back. Second, I’m having a heck of a time getting him to get the idea of actually catching the ball. I don’t recall its being this difficult with my previous dogs, but maybe that’s just selective memory at work. Echo, I seem to recall, picked it up very quickly and got pretty good at it; Chui (the dog I had as a teenager) was the most skilled ball-catching dog I’ve ever had. I can tell by the way Bailey runs and moves that he could be a pretty darned good Frisbee-catching dog, but I first have to figure out how to get him there. Right now, he just kind of looks at it and then chases it after it’s past him.

Of course, since we’ve gotten a fence installed, one of the most amusing things to watch is how Bailey has discovered squirrels. I wish I could say I took these pictures, but in fact my wife did:

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And, in a bit of shameless dog blogging, I can’t resist a couple more. Perhaps one of the most hilarious things about Bailey is how he frequently eats his dinner:

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I’ve never seen another dog eat this way, other than a very old dog. Certainly, I’ve never seen a puppy eat this way.

Finally, Bailey also seems to think that he can help me blog:

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I wonder if I can come up with a blatant ripoff of Chad’s dialogues with his dog, only about quackery and medicine. Hmmmm. I might have to get Bailey his own Facebook page, just like Chad’s dog Emmy.