Uncle Frank's First Four Weeks

On the 27th July 2012 Connie and I moved into our new flat in Glasgow and brought home for the first time our new puppy, Uncle Frank. Once you get to know him you can call him Frank. The first four weeks of his life with us have been pretty interesting from the perspective of someone that has never had a pet before. 

There are five things that I will bullet point here that instantly stick out in my mind.

  • I have never enjoyed hard work this much in my life.
  • His antics are forever going to be the source of anecdotes and could, in theory, sustain this blog for as long as he lives.
  • His joy at being allowed to do things and his pride at working things out are things that Connie and I notice on a hourly basis.
  • Dog pee doesn’t smell as bad as you might think, but dog shit is one of the worst smelling things I’ve ever came across.
  • People who have dogs love to talk to other people who have dogs, no matter if they are strangers or not.
 Let’s start from the start then. His first night in the flat was a manic one – it was simultaneously his first time away from his mother and litter-mates, but also the first time in a cage. And, the first time he’d came up against a bunch of our friends who had came over to help out move stuff into the flat and had stayed to drink. It was also the first night of the Olympics. The summer will be defined by the Olympics and the puppy – I mean, who even remembers Euro 2012? He was cute, peed once or twice on the floor, and mostly was cuddled and petted. He was very tired and slept on and off. Considering his removal from his home that he knew he did incredibly well – he slept all the way through the night and I woke in the morning to a peed in crate and a happy sleepy puppy, a sign of things to come. The breeder would later call and remark that “sleeping through the night? That won’t last!”, as she chuckled away to herself – she was wrong.

In the first week we struggled with his house training. Living on the top floor Frank’s propensity for peeing in the hallway, the front room, and that bathroom frustrated more than it angered. He appeared to understand the need to wait, but still didn’t. His progress has been slow, but steady – now he won’t pee in his crate, thankfully, and whines more when he needs to be let out. We are trying to bell train him – this technique involves ringing a bell each time we take him out to pee so that he makes the association. This should’ve taken already, but we think that the walk down stairs probably doesn’t help his link between the two. Slowly we are getting there. Another barrier to this seems to be his laziness. He doesn’t make any effort when he’s tired or just woken up to avoid peeing. We can trust him during the day, as he holds his pee now, but in the mornings or after a lengthy nap he will likely need to carried down stairs. The close stairs are now our new hallway – he is getting closer to outside, but not quite there.  Thankfully, so far, he’s yet to shit in the house.

He has his quirks, and these make it worthwhile having a puppy for sure. He likes to bite, of course, but that’s slowly going away. His teeth are sharp but his jaw is less likely to bite down but just to “mouth” as it’s known. He is teething, like a kid, but instead of crying he bites. It makes for a difficult time though, as it’s very constant. And my sleeves have yet to be free from broken skin since we got him – my right hand has taken most of the punishment.

In the last four weeks though he’s started to respond to his name, sits on command more times than not, and in a brilliant feature has started to ring the bell to go out to pee. In saying that… learning that a bell = go outside might also mean a lot of spurious bell ringing, it is better than the opposite.  In the next few weeks we will work on his stay command, rolling over, shaking the paw and a few other neat tricks. No point telling you them though; I’ll save that for the surprise when I can on command make him do the Archie Gemmel goal for Scotland against the Netherlands.

It has only been in the last week that it has felt like we have a proper dog, however. Because of his age and the city environment we weren’t allowed to walk him until a week after his final shot – his 12th week. And so, to Troon, Loch Lomond, Largs, Pollok and Rouken Glen park he’s been, and he’s loved it – the best part is meeting all the other dogs, him tentaivley going into the water at the beach, and his perceived smile – something my parents don’t believe.

I can only imagine what the next four weeks will bring.