The training has started and Garms personality reveals itself more and more. As I suspected his confidence will be a challenge in some aspects of the training while very helpful when meeting people, other dogs or changing locations.
The first few days Garm spent most of the time exploring home while I followed him trying to figure out which situations triggered behaviors that I later on can use in my training.
“Sit” and “come here” are the easy ones. Everytime I stop walking he automaticly sits down to assess the situation. All I had to do was to give the “sit” command a second before stopping and then give him a treat with a lot of praise. This way he could connect the command “sit” with an specific action without putting any pressure on him since he already had decided to sit down. If it worked it would make the actual training so much easier later on. After two days I decided to test the command in other situations to see whether he understood or I had to change tactics. I gave the command sit, and waited. You could almost see his head spinning trying to figure out the meaning of this and after a few seconds he sat down and looked at me like a big question mark. Success at first attempt! I continued to test him in different locations, at a variety of distances to see if it was just a lucky shot or if he really did comprehend the meaning of the word. He nailed it every time.
During training you shouldn’t give the dog a command if you know he most likely will ignore it. Then you only accentuate misbehavior and all is lost. Be sure you get the response you are looking for. Train in short periodes when the dog is truly motivated, and in a location where he is focused on you only.
Finally, after 30 hours of more or less continuous driving I managed to pick up Garm at Oeygarden(outside Bergen) and bring him home. I was afraid 13 hours stuck in a car, just separated from his siblings and mother, would be a challenge but after 10 minutes of crying he relaxed and fell asleep. We stopped to pee and get to know each other every 2 hours, the rest he slept like a baby.
A few characteristics already stands out. He is confident and curious. It didn’t take him more than a couple of minutes to search through the house and settle in when we arrived for the first time. A minute later he was running around playing with one of the toys left from Otello.
This will make it easier when introduced to new environments and socializing, but also means I have to be smarter during training sessions to keep his attention and his attempts to challenge me for position.
Four weeks have passed since my friend Otello died. The appartement is still empty and pretty much nothing feels right. My life the last eight years has always been about what we could do together, and not having him around is very painful.
Today it’s snowing and it’s cold outside. The weather reminds me of one of Otello’s stranger behaviors. He loved the winter and snow. I think it was because of his thick and warm fur, and how he could run around without getting a heat stroke. Since he was three years old he had the strangest ability to know when the first icicles would appear, hanging from the roof of the old buildings across the street. Every autumn since then he would wake up the first day below zero degrees, anxious to get outside, waiting for me to open the door. Once outside he would run straight across the street and sit down outside one of the buildings, just staring up in the air waiting for me to hand him one of the icicles whitch he then ate like candycanes. He loved them, and he never missed the first day.
It’s now just seven more days before picking up my new dog. I’m looking forward to find something positive to focus on again and a new friend to bring with me on my trips in the mountains.
Finally the puppies have been divided amongst their new families and I can for the first time identify my new dog. It’s a good feeling and things now seem a bit more real.
Say hello to Garm(According to norse mythology Garm is the dog that guards the dead at Hel. He is to signal Ragnarok by barking loud three times, break loose from his chain and fight the warrior god Tyr. It is also believed that Garm and Fenris is the same creature.)
In about three weeks I’m going to Bergen to pick him up. By then the house needs to be prepared and his playground outside must be finished.