This week we were invited over to my brother’s house to introduce our pup to the two border collie puppies (one adopted, one still being fostered) and their older Lab-mix. It promised to be a big social occasion for Margot with it being the first time she would be up close and personal with other dogs without the restriction of the lead. There was some trepidation before we left our house for our afternoon of ‘fun’, but we needn’t have worried. From Margot’s point of view, those few hours had to have been the most exciting with other furry friends up to this point. (And we all had a good time too!)
Travelling in the Car
My brother and his wife live a good hour’s drive away from us. You may remember that on the previous weekend we travelled a little further afield on purpose in preparation for this increase in our car mileage. On the way there I sat in the back with Margot where J had installed one of her fluffy mats. We decided to dispense with the box seat and simply plugged her in to the seat belt to give her more of a chance to lie down in comfort. With the thick mattress raising her up a bit, there’s not much room for manoeuvre, but she certainly looks safe and comfortable travelling in the back. It only took Margot about ten minutes to settle down before she promptly fell asleep as you can see in the pictures above. The same thing happened on the return journey. We all felt that this was fortuitous in terms of getting away somewhere during the summer holidays as well as out and about in our home county.
Initial Meet and Greet
As I mentioned before, my brother has a relatively big (30kg) black Lab-mix called Dexter. P absolutely adores Dexter and she has been wanting to introduce him to Margot since we brought her home. Desperate for the two of them to get along, we were delighted when her initial meeting did not involve jumping all over Dexter and making him bark at her. We had been warned by my brother that the mature canine in the family doesn’t allow any poor puppy behaviour from the other two border collie pups. (Let’s face it, poor Dexter had to put up with eight puppies from October when their arrival was a complete surprise. It must have been a huge shock to his system as well as to the humans in the house. I think he has coped rather well.)
Before long, Margot was following Dexter around like a lost puppy – it was so sweet to see. The icing on the cake was when she picked up his beloved toy and placed it at his feet having watched him play with it for quite some time. My brother had been expecting some growling, but not a bit of it – they seemed like firm friends from the outset.
In the Garden
When we first arrived, Freddie and Axel, the two border collie puppies who are ten weeks younger than Margot, were kept back in their gated space. Two total fluffballs, they were the ones barking in their excitement to get involved. And so cuddly. Whoever said that dogs don’t like being picked up has never met these two: so soft and so happy for human contact. I was expecting some bitey behaviour, comparing them to when Margot was that age, so initially I was a little wary, but they were ever so sweet. In fact I was a little bit envious!
In the garden, Margot soon took the lead, but again, the three of them played together beautifully. My theory is that there was no lead to get in the way or fight against, but instead the freedom to run around. They were probably tired before we even got to the agility park…
G and N had booked us thirty minutes at an agility park down the road for the dogs to run about in. And run around they did. In fact they did nothing else apart from run around and chase each other. Again it looked like so much fun. Margot had a ball. The three puppies have matching harnesses in an array of colours which you can see in the first picture below. In the fourth photo it almost looks like Margot is giving Dexter a kiss – maybe it was that moment he realised that she was a female. (Cue some awkward behaviour…)
What’s great about this place is that you are inside a fenced field with no fear that the dogs can run off anywhere whilst not on a lead. Recall practice didn’t really work on this occasion with too many other distractions. Although if you came somewhere like this on your own, it would be perfect for practising that. In terms of the agility equipment in the field, J managed to encourage our pup through the tunnel and P used the mini jumps with Margot successfully – when she didn’t knock them off herself with her wellies!
Our first official puppy social was a great success and one we are hoping to repeat once a month in the future. Now I can see why puppy classes have such a benefit. Margot was, in my brother’s words, ‘brilliant’ with the other dogs and it was easy to see that she had a wonderful time.
Six-month Vet Check
Last weekend we also had our monthly weigh in with the veterinary nurse, the lovely Alice we have seen three times now. The first thing she said (after commenting on how much Margot had grown) was that she was going to be a petite dog. Apparently, her feet are quite small now in comparison to the rest of her body. Having considered her paws as being on the large side for quite some weeks, this took me by surprise. But I suppose it’s all relative now that she’s grown a bit more. Although it took Margot a few attempts to walk onto the weighing scales and sit down, our pup got there in the end and is now just above 13kg. (No wonder I have difficulty lifting her up!)
We also used this opportunity to ask Alice’s advice about spaying. Margot will be coming up to six months old in a couple of weeks. Any time after that we can expect to see signs of her first season. According to the pdsa website, the signs to look out for are ‘a swollen vulva, changes in behaviour and bleeding, which can be light or heavy.’ It usually lasts for 16-18 days and happens every 6-7 months. There was also the warning that she will become very interested in male dogs – this made me smile to myself as Margot continually strains at the leash whenever we come across any other dog, male or female.
I remember our first meeting with a vet for Margot’s second set of vaccinations, where she spoke to us about the benefits of spaying. It is certainly a priority for the near future as I can’t see us going down the breeding route. Lynwood recommend the surgery 18-22 weeks after the first season so it could be over the summer holidays. But then again, the first season can be as late as when the dog is two and a half years old so it’s not worth planning for it yet.
Alice mentioned laparoscopic spaying, which has a range of advantages: it’s less invasive, takes under an hour, leaves smaller surgical wounds, has a lower risk of infection and offers a quicker recovery time. I suspect it comes with a heftier price tag too. But something else for us to consider when the time comes. I’ll keep you posted…
‘I know that this seat pad is too small for me now, but if I curl up I can just about sit on it. I’m not sure why I look so guilty in this picture. I haven’t chewed on any forbidden furniture recently, I promise! Lots of it tastes really bitter anyway. I don’t know what it is that they are spraying, but I don’t like it at all.
I had the best time ever a few days ago hanging out with that group of dogs. The old chap was my favourite, but the little boy pups were good fun too. They had bundles of energy just like me and kept following me around the garden. I liked being the leader!’
Next week… it’s half-term, so lots of visits to and by friends and hopefully some more adventures a bit further afield.
3 responses to “Dog Blog #15 – Puppy Social”
There is a great agility park just near me, so about 10 mins from you.
It’s lovely to see Margot doing so well!
Thanks, Helen! x
Great photos, K. It really was a lovely day. x