• The Trials of puppyhood and a developing relationship

      0 Not allowed! Not allowed!

      I have been reminiscing about the early days of bringing Helmutt home. How our relationship developed from the beginning, and the challenges we had along the way. I thought it would be a fitting subject for my second installment of this column.

      From the very start it was quite apparent how affectionate Helmutt was. Firstly through numerous conversations with his breeder. This took me by surprise as was not indicated in the thorough research I did about the breed. The evenings were spent cuddling after his second favourite past time which was exploring.

      For his arrival, dog bedding was set up in the laundry for him to sleep on. Helmutt had other ideas about his sleeping arrangements. On his own, he upgraded from that place to the nearby living area. After all the lights were turned off,he would leave the laundry, and somehow amble up onto the couch. I was able to, via security camera, view with keen interest at how my rather small, at the time, Pointer Pup would manage to get up there. He would then sleep soundly until next morning.

      I am sure anyone that has had the experience of raising a pup knows just how much trouble they can get into! When you lose an older dog, and decide to take on a pup, it is something you have to be ready for. Perhaps itís just all a sense of perspective, but it does seem that it gets harder each time. Dealing with puppy antics is not something I wanted to deal with straight away. As explained in my first article. Helmutt is my first German Shorthaired Pointer. I knew it was going to be a new experience in so many ways. Some knowledge about previous breeds applies but there would be many new things to learn. Sure you can read a lot, and there is no shortage of material of information, but much is done simply by trial and error. Hopefully less of the latter!

      What was it about Helmutt that was the biggest concern? It was devouring any foreign objects. Anything that was picked up by this curious pup was often quickly swallowed. You would not know just what it was. Eating some blue metal also known as construction aggregate resulted in a vet trip. Another incident I witnessed was picking up a small bright object on a walk. I tried in vain to stop him. My heart sank as I realised it was gone. Fortunately he passed it and I then discovered that it was a golf tee.

      Some readers might be familiar with a TV program called ďMy Dog Ate what?Ē I found to be totally fascinating viewing but not one for the squeamish. A series totally dedicated to the things that dogs eat but shouldn't. The veterinary practices usually by surgery required to save them.

      There was a period during those early days that first thing every morning Helmutt would throw up as soon as he awoke. Usually with a small amount of bile. Sometimes there would be nothing at all. He would eat breakfast and be totally fine for the rest of the day. It was all rather mysterious. We did discover that a neighbour had been throwing out corn cobs for birds to snack on. A chat over the phone with Helmuttís breeder as well as Google searches confirmed just how bad these things were. They just canít be digested. One morning he did throw up some corn fragments. So it seemed that the mystery illness may had been solved. I spoke with the neighbour and explaining the dilemma of having a pup that would devour just about anything, including the corn cobs, and this concerned him. He agreed to putting these corn cobs straight in the rubbish from now on. Almost immediately the early morning vomiting incidents stopped. A huge relief and it was so much better to be awoken to the sounds of a happy healthy puppy rather than a sick one!

      Helmutt was also fond of pruning any plants and probably was consuming some of unknown origin. We used some of the older fencing and gate to cut the backyard in half. This prevented easy access to most of the gardens, and kept him out of the shed. I was rather glad we didn't end up featuring on an episode of the aforementioned television program!

      And so life got back on track with young Helmutt. There were of course the usual house training issues. Itís always rather amusing listening to people with a new puppy boasting that they have house trained theirs in only a few days. Like that is at all possible! It just takes time and a lot of accidents along the way. Other issues like bench surfing were resolved by installing baby/pet barriers. This also gave the cat two safe areas while still allowing them to mingle when they wanted to.

      And so Helmutt grew quickly and a strong bond developed between us. He attended puppy school and graduated. He later had some obedience training at the local club and still attending classes. He so loves his morning walk and afternoon frolics. Every dog and person he saw he thought was his friend and he wanted to meet every one of them! He possesses an amazing temperament and is highly intelligent.

      Back to the eating foreign objects, I am glad to say this is one habit he has grown out of! He still needs to be watched but he is so much better at discarding things he would have just swallowed once. A young puppy is so much of a joy in so many ways but it is a relief when they reach a certain age and they develop into the dog you want them to be. No we are not there yet but we are closer to the destination than where we started from!

      In the next instalment I will expand more on our relationship and some valuable lessons I learned from Helmutt.

      Roger Caras
      Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.
      For any prospective or current GSP owners looking for advice, information. Or seeking a special new Pointer friend. Whether it be a new puppy or a rescue. Here are links to two Facebook Groups:

      G.S.P Lovers Australia

      GSP Rescue Victoria Australia
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