Discovering the world

Living in Norway has it’s benefits, wherever you live nature is never far away. Within an hour from leaving home, by foot, you are standing at 1250 meter above sea level all by yourself.

Garm fjell

For Garm this means running around free more or less every day. Exploring, bathing in the rivers and lakes, being stupid and doing whatever dogs like to do.
Off course there are some limits to what he is allowed to do, and a lot of training is necessary to be able to let him loose like this. If I can’t trust him I cant let him loose, and on the other hand the moment I start trusting him things may go wrong fast.
Local farmers are not very forgiving if they see a dog chasing their sheep.

_DSC0311Garm is growing fast and already weighs more than 20 kilograms, all his teeth have been replaced and his colors are closed to developed.
At 4.5 moths old this is way ahead my last dog, Otello.

To my delight Garm, as Otello, loves fishing. After the first trout is caught he sits patiently, staring at the lake, waiting for the next trout to bite the fly and find its way to land so he can examine this strange creature. He has yet to decide if this is food, a toy or something that can eat him and should be treated as an enemy.WP_20160702_14_48_39_Pro (2).jpg

Curiosity

It’s been a while since my last post, but time is moving way too fast.

sissihoa

Garm is now nearly four months old. He loves peoples and other dogs to that degree it’s almost impossible to take him for a walk. Every time he sees someone he wants to meet them. It doesn’t matter how far away they are, if he can see them he tries his best to get to them.
His reaction to meeting people is over excitement and biting. Combined with his natural urge to bite because of his teeth itching there is a lot of biting. Thankfully, with a lot of help from my friends,  he lately seems to calm down and the biting gradually stops.

Like other puppies he is very curious and everything needs to be checked out. A few days ago he saw his first airplane when a small plane flew across at low altitude. He sat down staring at the plain like a kid would stare meeting “batman” for the first time. Only after the plane was way out of sight I managed to regain his attention.

Yesterday Garm decided to investigate the bottom of the river. I’m not sure how for long a dog can hold his breath but he stayed under for quite some time.

A puppy’s curiosity is also the biggest obstacle when trying to train him. The best thing to do is just let them investigate until they settle down, and then continue the training.

 

Physical exercise

A dog needs physical exercise to build muscles, strengthen the bones and develop fine motor skills. A healthy dog is also happier and most likely to live longer. Physical exercise is an excellent way to remove a lot of the mental stress that make your dog restless when alone, chewing on your shoes, barking at the door bell and so on.

Garm_trening

You should, as much as possible, stay away from hard surfaces like asphalt when walking/exercising your dog. It is very tough on their joints and it only challenges a small amount of their muscles. Are you lucky enough to live close by a park or forest you should spend as much time there as possible. To a dog it’s close to heaven.

The rough terrain(puppy standard) forces the puppy to use all his muscles just to prevent him from falling. Hi is building strength much faster compared to a dog walking on asphalt only, and the soft surface works as a cushion preventing impact damage to joints and muscles. I prefer to let my dog go free so he can challenge the terrain at his own pace. Doing so he will soon start exploring the surroundings and build self esteem at the same time. You can hide treats or toys around the terrain to help him get started.

As a rule I have an imaginary limit(30 meters) as to how far he can go before I call him back or demanding his attention. This worked perfect with my last dog Otello and he never left the “safe zone” when running free. I’m not yet sure if this was just me being lucky with Otello or if it actually works, only time will tell. After only two weeks with Garm it looks promising. Every time he get to the limit, he stoppes and looks back to check on me before proceeding. That is all the time you need to connect to him so you can give a command. Be sure to give lots of praise when he make that connection with you.

Just one more week

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.

istapp

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.

Big, brave and a bit silly

For eight years Otello and I stayed toghether every day, except three, and the house now feels empty and cold.

My mind constantly drift back in time remembering all the little quirks that made him so special while wondering what my next dog is going to be like. How much of his behavior was genetically provided, and how much was influenced by me.

German shepards are normally considered being big, brave dogs. Otello was a big dog… He loved everyone and everything around him and would defend me by all means necessary if needed, but the strangest things could scare him.

Otello snow

Three years ago I woke up in the middle of the night. Otello was running circles in the room, stressed and scared. I had no idea what had happened and looked around trying to see if mabye an animal had jumped through the bedroom window and inside, it wouldn’t be the first time. Nothing! By now Otello had noticed I was awake and jumped up in the bed giving it his best effort to hide his 40 kilo big body in my sternal notch. I jumped out of bed, prepared to meet everything from burgulars to badgers, searching everywhere and finding nothing. Just when I was giving up I noticed Otello was freaking out again. Still I couldn’t see anything, but there was a sound. A bearly noticeable, but very familiar sound caught my ear. One single mosquito had managed to get in and scare my big german shepard stupid.

It’s not like he was running around scared all the time, not at all. He was a very happy and content dog, but some situations needed a cautious approach. People never scared him, but if something was out of place in a familiar surrounding it would trigger his nerves a bit.

Is this a result of me being to controlling and over protecting? I hardly ever used a leash, he could always run around “unrestricted”. Even going shopping he would stay by my side with no leash, walking among all the other locals. To be able to do this we had to train constantly on all the little do’s and don’ts. Do not touch that, do not go there, stay close. Could this be the reason for his behavior in some situations. Had I taken away some of his abilities to react more secure and handle new situations on his own?

Will my next dog react the same way given the same training or was this a behavior due to genetic conditions?

In loving memory of Otello, 08.06.2008 to 16.03.2016

This story of life starts with the death of my best friend through almost eight years, my german shepard Otello.

Two years ago he tore his ACL and went through surgery even though his odds were small for full recovery. The operation went well, but his joint had taken so much damage that it was propably only a question of time until the injury would start affecting him. In retrospect I’m not sure if I would do this operation again unless the dog is guarantied a full recovery. The next few months was hard on us both. Me, for having to watch my friend in pain day after day and Otello for having to live through it not knowing why he had to suffer. What did amaze me though was his constant positive spirit, never giving up. I think the best thing about the whole experience is how we bonded in a way I couldn’t think possible and should define the next two years together.

His injury never fully recovered. Even though he never complained, or gave a direct signal that he was in pain, it was obvious that something was wrong. Lately the trips was getting shorter every day and other injuries started to occure, probably because of the exstra load trying to take the weight of the injuried foot. Still he stayed positive and was happy just to be with me. I guess his always positive attitude and love for me is what made the decision to end his life so much harder and more difficult to deal with later on. On wednesday the 16. of march I realized this couldn’t go on anymore and a very difficult phone call was made to the veterinarian, late in the evening, asking if he could meet me at his office to end my best friends life. Twenty minutes later it was all over. The first 10 minutes I was relieved it was finally over and his pain was gone, then the black cloud of doubt crashed in hard and I started wondering if my decision was the right one. It’s not easy to make such a decision for someone who can’t defend themself, and when it’s done you can only hope it was the right one. There is NO do over! Thank you my friend, I will allways love you and remember you!

I made this blog to remember my friend Otello, but this story goes on with my new dog Garm(from norse mythology). He is also a german shepard and is barely three weeks old(born 29.02.2016). Because of his young age I haven’t been able to pick him up yet and have to wait for another four weeks to bring him home.

In this blog I will try to share the growth and life of Garm from birth to his death(may he live forever), and share my experiences with you. Hopefully you will also share some of yours with me.

To a new, better day!