Now all grown up, Gnat and Spooky the cat are still best friends. Here Gnat is being searched for cheatgrass seed heads, nasty things that can work their way under the skin and cause sores. Spooky decided that taking a nap ON Gnat would be more comfortable than lying on the grass!
Puppies and Mirrors--great fun! It's a crack-up to see the first encounter between a puppy and a mirror. I try not to do this with a puppy unless I am going to keep him, so that each puppy's new owners have this peculiar first-time pleasure. Sheltie puppies learn very fast, and I don't want to teach the puppies about mirrors before they go to new homes. Place a mirror on the floor and against a wall. Brace it with books or a chair so your puppy can't tip it over. Introduce your puppy to the room, sit down, and wait. Your problem will be to keep from laughing so hard it distracts your puppy from exploring the strange, flat Sheltie!
Puppies and Water --this may be fun for your puppy--maybe not! Some lines of Shelties are water-going, but others aren't. Most Clan Duncan Shelties are, being several times Ch. Cherden Sock It To 'Em CD ROM. Place a wide, shallow pan of water in your yard--perhaps a 9 by 13-inch aluminum cake tin--and see what your puppy does. A sunny, warm day is best, of course, and your puppy should be at least six weeks old. A water-going Sheltie puppy will step right in. Some will sleep curled up in a water pan with their heads hanging over the outside rim. Others will submerge their muzzles up to the eyes and blow bubbles, or slap the water with their paws, or roll in it. The last litter at Clan Duncan had four water-goers and two abstainers. After the puppies finished their afternoon meal, Scott and I would let them out to explore the lawn. The water-goers, from the edge of 6 weeks, would run at once to the ornamental pond and, without hestation, jump right in. We had to stay right with them to make sure they could swim out each time. The other two puppies thought they were crazy. Our water lilies suffer every time there are puppies at Clan Duncan.
Smell that! This is fun for puppies, and works very well as pre-training for Utility. Every time I happen to deal with something that has a strong odor, I hold it down to the puppy's level and say, "Smell that." (Use whatever short phrase you like.) "That" can be a rose, mint leaves, floor wax, perfume, a jar of Vicks vapor-rub, a lemon. Very soon your puppy will get the idea, and will extend his muzzle for a good sniff. You can then move to more and more subtle smells. This and the next interactive ongoing activity make your puppy seem much more like a person. I always have fun saying, "Smell that," --and having visitors do a double-take as the Sheltie actually sniffs what I offer. Look up at the banner at the top of this page. I am saying to little Galen, "Smell that!"
Look! "Look!" is a great training aid--and also goes a long way toward helping you communicate with your puppy. Start by using objects that the puppy is going to be interested in anyway, like a Milk-Bone. Say, "Look!" before you show it to him. Then say "Look!" again, and show it to him for a couple of seconds before you let him have it. Point at it with your finger. Gradually move from giving him things to pointing out interesting things of all sorts. How many times have you said, "Look, Fellow!" when you want to show him something, only to have Fellow fix his eyes upon your pointing finger? It's a great comfort to have your Sheltie understand what you yourself are actually looking at. I really enjoy showing things like toads and caterpillars to my dogs, and having them understand what I want them to see. Years ago Duncan was with us at a marine research station in Mexico as we searched for brittle stars for a certain project. "Look!" we said, showing him a wet, wiggly brittle star. Duncan "got" it, and soon began searching on his own and barking whenever he found a brittle star. It was a way for him to understand what we were doing. My favorite "Look!" story is also about Duncan. Late one evening at the university, several graduate students were examining specimens under a microscope. One student suddenly shouted, "Look!" --and pushed back from the table so we could look through his scope. The first one to hop up there and have a look was--you guessed it--little Duncan.
Watch the Clan Duncan Funnies Pages for more tips and tricks!