Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Pip in a bow

I am just not the kind of person who puts a bow on her dog, but today Pip has one, so this may be your last look at Pip in a bow.

Pip at 16 weeks

Pip at 16 weeks

Pip at 16 weeks

Pip at 16 weeks

Baby's first haircut

Baby's first haircut
Stephanie, Pip, and Felicia at From Top Knots to Tails
Pip didn't really need a haircut yet, but I wanted to see how she did with a professional groomer. One of my facebook friends, Stephanie, works at a place called From Top Knots to Tails, and I decided to try it out.

Pip was apparently a very good little girl. I don't know how long the bow will last, but my mother-in-law got SUCH a kick out of it that I'll probably leave it on for a day or two.

Baby's first haircut
Ain't she pretty?

Baby's first weekend without Mommy

I had to go to Kansas last weekend for the Wings 'N Wetlands birding festival. I left early Thursday morning and didn't get home until Monday night, leaving Pip at home with Russ, Tom, and my mother-in-law Helen. By all accounts, Pip was very "mopey" for the first two days, but did great and it was a wonderful opportunity for the whole family to bond with her without me being there--when I'm anywhere near, Pip sticks to me like glue. Tom said that she ran to the door to our garage when she heard the car arrive, and the moment she heard my voice, started quivering and wagging. She was SO happy to see me. Perhaps even as happy as I was to see her!

Monday, April 20, 2015

Pip goes to Goose Pond

Pip at Goose Pond
Pip got a kick out of running along in the grass after being cooped up in the car so much of the weekend.
I had to drive to Chicago this past weekend for a very sad event--one of my dearest relatives, my Aunt Marilyn, died last week, and the funeral was on Saturday. Pip was wonderful company in the car. We stopped at Goose Pond on the way down Friday, but didn't get there until sunset, so it was too dim for photos. But on the way back up on Sunday morning, it was lovely. Pip was fascinated with a Red-winged Blackbird on Prairie Lane, and with one Tree Swallow that sat on a bench. Pip does seem to realize that if we move toward birds, they fly away, so she stayed close while we watched him.

I haven't had much time to get out birding with her, so her lifelist is only at 78 after our trip, and #78 was actually at home when we got here Sunday afternoon--an American Tree Sparrow. We're still missing some shockingly easy species, such as White-throated Sparrow, so if I have a chance to focus with her, her list should start growing by leaps and bounds.
Tree Swallow
At first the swallow gave us a long, hard stare.
Tree Swallow
After being reasonably certain we'd stay put, the swallow checked out other things.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Pip visits KUMD

I went into KUMD today so Lisa Johnson could record an interview with me regarding my new book, Into the Nest. The interview will air on her book segment on Thursday morning. Pip is excellent at being quiet when her mommy is blathering about birds or books, so she came into the studio with me.

Pip at KUMD

They had trouble getting a level for Pip, so you'll probably not hear her on the finished interview, but she strongly recommends my book, in particular because Marie Read did such a splendid job as the main photographer and the photo editor.
Pip in the KUMD studio

Pip approved!
Pip approves of my new book!

Ring my chimes!

Pip has a tiny little whine, which she uses when she has to go outside, but I'm not always in the same room to hear. So she now has a somewhat louder way of letting me know when she wants to go out. She is very consistent about ringing her chimes when she has to relieve herself, but has also learned that I instantly take her out no matter what, so she also uses the technique when she wants to go out and play.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Pip loves cat food--even their empty dishes!

Pip goes to the Northern Great Lakes Visitor Center

Mute Swan
Mute Swan (NOT the one Pip saw!)
On April 9, I was scheduled to speak about hummingbirds at the Northern Great Lakes Visitor Center, on behalf of North Pikes Creek Wetlands and the Chequamegon Audubon Society. My original plan was to leave in early afternoon so Pip and I could go birding along the way, but the weather turned out to be crappy--freezing drizzle all day--so we didn't leave until 4 pm.

Pip snuggles right into her car seat--the Snoozer wheeled carrier that is allowed as carryon luggage to travel with a dog. When others are riding, too, I belt that into the back seat, but when it's just Pip and me, I secure it in the front seat next to me. So far Pip has travelled over 1,000 miles with me with no problems whatsoever. Except for that first ride with Jeanie driving and me holding her on my lap when we got her from the breeder, and a length of the trip from Chicago to Baraboo when she sat in my friend Kathy's lap, she's done all that travel in her Snoozer, with no sign of discomfort, anxiety, carsickness, or restlessness. I keep a couple of toys and a chew stick in there, and she occupies herself when not napping. If I unzip enough of the cover to stick my hand in to stroke her, she snuggles in, but doesn't even try to poke her head out, much less seem interested in escaping from the carrier.

So our drive to the Visitor Center was easy and uneventful. I listen to the radio and music from my iPod when I drive. Now that I have my hearing aids, I can hear it perfectly, with reduced background noise, when the volume is set considerably lower than I used to have it at. That's probably a Good Thing for a puppy's sensitive ears. Between drizzle and high winds, we didn't see any new birds at all on the drive (I'd been hoping at least for a harrier!). We were a bit early when we arrived, so I drove on into Ashland to see if we could pick out one of the two Mute Swans in the wetlands along the highway, and voila! #52 for Pip! With the crappy visibility, I didn't pull over on the busy highway to check out all the waterfowl, but when we pulled into the Visitor Center, I stopped at the ponds, and there was a gorgeous male Wood Duck and a pair of Hooded Mergansers. So Pip made it to #54!
Wood Duck
Wood Duck (NOT the one Pip saw!)
I walked her around a bit, but the cold, wet ground didn't feel that great to her, especially with the rain and wind. I put her back in the car while I went in and got set up, and then came back out for another little walk. We met a woman who was stopping (the Visitor Center doubles as a highway rest stop) with her Chihuahua puppy. Pip was a little shy, as was the other puppy, and Pip made the situation a little harder for the other dog because the one thing she has learned from our cats is to bat her paw back at them, and she immediately started batting her paw at the Chihuahua. They did a little sniffing of each other, and his owner and I both considered the encounter a success.

After Pip finally wet, and after making sure she'd be allowed inside in her carrier, I brought her in with me for the program. I showed her to a few friends when we came in, before the big crowd arrived, and then put her in her Snoozer with my jacket covering part of it. She immediately curled up, and I didn't hear a peep out of her for the next hour and a quarter. She was silent as the people came (and it was a very full house--they had to set up chairs in the aisles of the auditorium!), and during the initial speakers' comments and my introduction, and throughout my talk, which lasted an hour, and when I took several questions. Then I brought her out. She was happy and calm meeting lots of people.

So far Pip doesn't seem to find it tedious that at least a couple of men in any crowd are guaranteed to blurt out that a little dog "looks like eagle food" or "would be easy pickin's for a Bald Eagle" or other predictably dismissive and rude comments. Most of course don't intend the comments to be rude--they just think it's funny and that they're the first person to ever think it up--but after 16 years of hearing that, over and over, about my little dog Photon, it has gotten very old. Unfortunately, the crowd Thursday night had three of those people. I've never been able to think of a good comeback that isn't equally rude, so I just try to ignore them. Anyway, at her current weight, Pip would be easy pickin's for an eagle or a Great Horned Owl, so it's not like there isn't some truth to that. But no one looks at a big dog and blurts out how easy it would be for that dog to get caught in a leg hold trap or be killed by a car or truck. I'm not sure what aspect of small dogs makes it so easy for people to instantly remark on their mortality, when on average they live considerably longer than larger breeds. Oh, well.

The wind and temperature were both fiercer when we left, and it was snowing horribly. Driving was treacherous all the way to Iron River--no one seemed to be driving faster than about 40--but then it cleared up and by the time we got to Poplar, no snow could be seen on the ground at all. Hard driving conditions seem much easier somehow with a good dog along for company. We got home about 10:30. This is usually bedtime, but Pip had been restrained in the carrier for so much of the evening that I let her play for an hour before we went to bed. Within a couple of days of coming home, when I put her in her little bed, inside a Rubbermaid container next to my side of the bed, she curls right up with a chew toy, plays for a little while, and goes to sleep. I was very tired, but even though Russ woke up early, she stayed in bed quietly until I woke up at 7:30. Great puppy, or the greatest puppy?

Pip in her little car seat

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Confirmation that Pip really is a birding dog

This morning when I was watching CBS Sunday Morning, a local roofing company ran a commercial that ended with a Pileated Woodpecker call. Pip's ears pricked up and she looked straight at the TV when she heard that! Whenever she clearly notices a bird, I tell her what species it is, though I don't expect I'll ever test her on her identification skills.

She and I also watched our backyard Hairy Woodpeckers going at it this morning. I haven't yet figured out which tree they'll be nesting in, but this was happening in the backyard box elder, and she was looking up into the right branches to see what she could see, thanks to them being pretty noisy about it. 

Pip is barely three months old, so this is a little earlier than I expected to be explaining the birds and the bees to her, but she seemed interested. Then again, she seems to think every single thing I say is utterly fascinating. 

I gave her her first bath here last night. She didn't like it, but I was gentle and reassuring, and she quickly forgave me.I didn't take photos--wanted to concentrate on just getting the ordeal over for her.

I knew I was going to have a lot of fun with her. But I never realized it would be this fun!

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Pupdate: Adapting to a new puppy

Pip's kennel
Pip in her kennel
I still haven't written a post about adopting Pip--am waiting for more photos (Correction: now I have--scroll down to what I backdated as the March 20 post).but I might as well post about the first 13 days of living with her. It's much harder keeping up with blogging with a real, live puppy than it was when she was 500 miles away!

First off, I still can't get over how well behaved she was from the very beginning, thanks to her excellent breeder. I keep reading online that Havanese have serious problems with housebreaking, but I suspect that this breed, and maybe others, have an earlier learning period regarding their potty habits than most people realize. Julie's starting the litter out with puppy pads and then taking them outside from a very early age has to be responsible for how she came to me already housebroken. Of course her tiny body makes "holding it" trickier, which is why I have to pay attention to her cues when she's ready to go out, but that's usually quite easy. She's had only two housebreaking lapses in this whole time, both my fault. When I'm paying attention she's 100 percent reliably using the backyard.

Julie got her used to sleeping by herself before I took her, and gave me a special bed pad that smelled just like home, so there has been NO whining at bed time. When we slept at Russ's sister's house the first two nights, she went to sleep fine in her kennel, right next to my bed. The first night, I touched her in the middle of the night and she was shivering--the house was chilly--so I brought her into bed with me and she snuggled right in and fell back asleep. The second night the radiator was on, and she slept by herself all night. The third night I was at my friend Kathy's house, and again put her in her kennel for the night, and again she slept right through till morning.

Pip raking a nap in her kennel
Her kennel doesn't fit next to my bed at home, so we put her special bed pad in a large plastic bin. She already can jump out of it if she wants, but each night I've put her in that when we go to bed, she chews on one of her chew sticks while we read in bed, and when the lights go out, she goes to sleep. Russ usually wakes up before I do. The first few nights, she started crying as soon as he got up, and I'd get up then, but now she just goes back to sleep until I wake up. When I was up late putting together my April Fools program, I slept in until 7:30 without a peep from her. Other mornings I've gotten up anywhere between 5:00 and 6:30. I'm glad she's adapting from the start to my bohemian practices, because my life isn't as regular quite as most people's.

Pip in her car seat
She's an absolute dream in the car. I held her for her very first ride, from Julie's to Jeanie's (while Jeanie drove) when I first got her. When I drove her by myself, I put her special bed pad into her Snoozer airline case which I secured into the front passenger seat with the seat belt, and zipped her in with a couple of chew sticks. She just curls up and chews or sleeps, and I can zip open the case just enough to slip my hand in to pet her. On much of the ride from Chicago to Baraboo, my friend Kathy held her, but when that got a bit tiresome, we put her in the Snoozer in the back seat (it's really a great case--seems really secure with the seat belt holding it in place) and again she was perfect. The rest of the drive to Duluth, and a round trip to the Twin Cities a few days later, she was just perfect with the seat next to me in front.

She is extremely playful and exuberant when in that mode, but settles right down if something is going on that requires that. And she's extremely affectionate. It takes her a bit to warm up to other people, but she's not timid, and quickly makes friends with everyone, though from the very beginning she's clearly been my dog. She follows me from room to room. She loves sitting or sleeping on my lap while I'm writing (she's doing that right this minute), but doesn't mind if I put her down--she just ends up back at my feet or nearby.

Her one naughty behavior is chewing on the wrong things, but from the start she's been very responsive to my saying "Uh uh!" Occasionally I do have to escalate to a more serious-sounding "No!" but she's learning the rules around here very quickly. The things she's most fixated on are our shoes and slippers. I gave her an old pair of my shoes, and when she grabs one she's not supposed to have, after I take it away I tell her to "Go find Pippy's shoe," and she runs off and finds one of those (I keep one upstairs and one downstairs).


 The stairs in our house are exceptionally small--I doubt if they meet current building codes--and she goes up them whenever I go upstairs. She's scared to go downstairs, and I'm just as glad about that, so whenever we go back down, I sit at the top and say, "Wanna ride the Mommy elevator?" and she hops right on. There are three small steps up from our family room (where the back door is) to the rest of the downstairs. She runs right up them when we come in from outside, but won't go down them. Kasey, our younger, more playful cat, has figured this out. She lets Pip chase her all around the house, back and forth, and when she tires of it, she just goes into the family room and Pip stops.

Pip has been wonderful with big crowds of people. My godmother Rosemary (who just happens to live 3 blocks from Julie the breeder!) turned 80 the day after I got Pip, and was given a huge birthday party on the day I left Chicago. Pip came along to the party, where she got to meet dozens of my relatives and Rosemary's friends, and was perfectly wonderful with all the commotion and being held by people. She also came with me when I did a program for the Minnesota River Valley Audubon Chapter last week. My friend Jane came along to watch her if she got restless, but Pip curled up in her Snoozer for my entire talk! I took her out after the program and she was SO adorable, letting people pet her and being friendly but quiet. Back at Jane's house, she goofed around for half an hour or so, but then settled in and went to sleep when I did.

When I take her outside, she's extremely attentive to bird sounds and movements. She searches the sky in the right direction when our noisy Merlins call, but notices tiny Pine Siskin and chickadee calls, and geese flying over, too. A small airplane flew over this morning, and she tracked it from horizon to horizon. Her favorite birds are the two pairs of pigeons that visit. They used to fly away when she approached, but are getting more tolerant, and she just wags her tail at them from a polite distance. When they do take off, she tracks them in the sky.

knew I'd love her, and that I'd be able to teach her to fit in with our family and my peculiar habits. But I'm still surprised at how easy the adjustment has been for her and me, and how very little work this wonderful little puppy has been..

Pip the birding dog