getting to love Lucas
It has been exactly a week since Jeff and I picked up Lucas from the farm, and boy, have our lives changed! We have been enjoying the start of being a family of three, but there has also been a rather steep learning curve during these first seven days. In a nutshell, I could not have even imagined Lucas to be more different from Maris than he turned out to be – and even as an experienced dog mom, I felt like I had run out of tools and tricks within the first week of having Lucas. But he has also filled this house with giggles, laughter, and love… simply bursting out of our seams.
On food and treats: Maris was always hungry and she was not picky… and she was this way from the day we brought her home. So it made two things very easy… 1. training to do #2 outside (as soon as she ate, it was time to potty outside, then reward); and 2. train her to do pretty much anything else. As for Lucas, the moment I put him into his car seat, I handed him a small puppy treat. I wanted to reward him for sitting in the car seat without making a fuss. He sniffed it and turned his head away. I thought that perhaps he is still shocked from being torn away from the farm. Seven days later, I now know that he is a picky eater. He only eats his dry kibble completely soaked in water over night and spongy. And when he does eat his food, he grazes… so I have no idea when his insides are full of “you know what” in order to take him outside for #2. Sorry so graphic.
He also doesn’t eat regular doggy treats, but I have discovered that he likes cheddar cheese. So today, I went to Costco and bought a gigantic bag of shredded Mozzarella cheese. Cheese is cheese, and I love Mozzarella! But it turns out that Lucas only likes cheddar. So now I am stuck with a Costco-sized amount of shredded Mozzarella cheese. I can almost hear Jeff’s hurrah as I type this.
On personality: Maris was an independent little spirit. Of course, she was needy and baby-like when she was a puppy, but she was speedy in learning to self-soothe and overcame separation anxiety pretty early on. That independent spirit went along with her task-oriented breed – in her adulthood, she was all about her tasks. Stoic, all business, no-nonsense. And then came along Lucas. He cannot have the mesh wall of the baby playpen separate us – if he is inside it, and I am just outside it, the world will come to an end. Even if he can see me, through the mesh, it isn’t good enough. He is also all about rubs, cuddles, and kisses. He likes being held, which is new to me. The attachment was immediate and forever!
On the crate: I know that there are different opinions about crate training, but I crate-trained Maris with great success, so I am trying to repeat it with Lucas. Or am trying to… you see, the first night of Lucas’s stay, I slept inside the playpen with him, just so that he didn’t feel lonely (see above on personality). The second day, I made the crate very attractive… so attractive that he took a nap in it with the door open. And then in the evening, I shut the door after he fell asleep in it. In the middle of the night, Jeff and I woke up to this wailing that just would not stop. Hours of it. I thought to myself – he needs to learn to self-soothe… and then my heart broke, so I took him out, and then we slept in the playpen in the living room. For now, I have decided that he is simply too young to be training so hard on separation. So we bought a bigger playpen for the bedroom, put the crate inside it as a “safe space” with the door open, and I am still sleeping inside the playpen with him at night. Poor Jeff… but he gets to make jokes like “it’s like I have two pets!”
On training: I love watching dogs think. You can almost see the wheels turn. It was that way with Maris, and I was having so much fun that she learned to sit, lay down, stay, and was potty trained within two weeks of being with us. Later she learned rollover, stay, wait, etc. I think the training process helped us to communicate well in other ways, and that’s why I feel like she was more than a domesticated animal to me. Lucas is no different. Yes, potty training is challenging because of his picky eating patterns (see above), but with cheddar cheese in hand (ha!), I have been able to teach him to sit, lay down, touch, respond to leash pressure, and ring the doggy doorbell. A HUGE thank you to Aussie Academy, which I have been attending since mid-November to train myself first! And of course, I have an Aussie that is smart as a whip!
To sum up, the first week was a humbling experience. I was so confident about training this dog, and the Korean mama in me had set such an ambitious schedule. But Lucas’s picky palette threw out the most powerful tool I had, and his stubbornness wore my heart down. I have realized that the journey with Lucas is unique on its own, and I am keeping a completely open mind. And while he is so small, and so young, I am just enjoying his kisses and cuddles. Training will come in time, and I am willing to sleep in that playpen for as long as it takes.