A year has passed and Ellie’s puppy personality remained even as she grew bigger. Many milestones had passed not only in my life but Ellie’s as well. These milestones included graduating high school and Ellie experiencing snow for the first time. Over the course of the year, puppy training had not been going well and Ellie was developing poor habits. For example, any time someone came in the door she would “greet” him or her by jumping up and latching onto their waist. Even after people would push her down she would jump again.
I desperately wanted to break this habit so I did some research and discovered “The Pet Corrector.” This small aerosol can emits a blast of compressed air, ideal for interrupting undesirable behaviors. Many animals use a ‘hiss’ sound to ward off predators and the Pet Corrector mimics this sound creating a natural deterrent.
This worked maybe for about a month before she began to catch on and could tell if we were holding the can or not when someone walked through the door. We tried it for other bad habits like stealing food. It would take much longer than anticipated to break these habits.
Another habit that developed after her the first year was she found “her spot” on the couch. It became clear early on, even as a puppy, that the corner where the cushion meets the armrest was hers for the keeping. It didn’t matter if you were already sitting there, she will come and sit on you just to have “her spot.” There is, on rare occasion, a chance she will let you have the spot and lay down at your feet or jump on the couch next to you.
After a year of training, I wanted to make sure that she was a snuggle buddy and not just a “lay at your feet” kind of dog. In that, I never reprimanded her for this action of jumping on the couch and claiming her spot or other habits that would’ve reinforced the behavior. She is known in my family as the ultimate snuggler. This aspect alone made going away college very difficult. I had gotten so used to her sleeping in my bed every night and having her wake me up in the morning. Before leaving for college, I couldn’t imagine not seeing and playing with her every day.
My parents described her behavior when I left as clinically depressed. She would mope around the house and sleep on my bed, as if she was waiting for me to come home.
Eventually when I got to see her for the first time over Fall Break, I nearly cried. She ran and jumped on me and as I knelt down she put her paws on my shoulders and pushed her nose into my face. This became her signature way of greeting me.
Ever since then she always greets me with this same routine of jumping and then her paws on my shoulders.
As the first semester of college came to a close, I got more and more excited that I got to spend a whole month and a half with Ellie.
I bought her Christmas gifts and dressed her up with antlers and jingle bells.
She even wore a football jersey for our Superbowl party.
When I went back to school the depression set in again for the both of us. However, I was in season for lacrosse and my parents did their best to bring her to as many games as possible. Although several times she wanted to jump the fence and chase the lacrosse ball, what she thought was her favorite, tennis balls. Seeing her more often made the transition from school to home for the summer much better.
On my first day home after the second semester, it was one of those rare occasions where she left me take her spot on the couch and this was the expression she gave me (see below).