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Lulu Update – 1st Day at Doggie Daycare

Posted Jul 29 2010 12:00am

I thought it was time to give a bit of an update on Lulu, since many of you like following her.  (I think more readers come to find out about her than me :) ). Up to today, I’ve been spending every single day with Lulu, only leaving her along for a few hours (4 1/2 at the most) at a time.  It’s been working out really well, and we’ve totally bonded.

The first month or so was complete bliss, especially the second half, when she started to really take to potty training.  She was a complete doll, and I loved being around her.  She was calm, fun, and just a joy.

And then she moved into her 5th month of life and turned into a terrible combo of a toddler/teenager.  :P   Cesar Milan says that this is the point at which puppies test the waters, show their independence, and may not mind as well as they have been.  (Parents, I’m sure this sounds familiar).  Suddenly Lulu wasn’t as easy as she used to be.  She wouldn’t mind as easily, she made a few mistakes in the house (although rare), and she started barking and lunging at me whenever I sat down to read the paper or eat.  In the past she had laid quietly at my feet or played with her toys during these times, but now she wanted my attention RIGHT NOW and ALL THE TIME!  Her barking didn’t scare me necessarily, but it did startle me, because she’s got a fairly loud bark (especially considering her small size).  And I didn’t like that she seemed more angry/aggressive than playful.  I didn’t really know what to do, but after consulting several websites, friends (including ScaleWarfare), and my dad (who knows everything!), I figured out to do a combo of ignoring her and/or turning her over on her back and holding her for a minute (I only do this if the barking continues to get worse/more aggressive, because it does seem to make her heart rate shoot up).  Slowly, she’s learning not do be so needy, and I’m learning ways to tire her out (playing and training sessions) before my meal times.  It’s working out.

And let me say that I absolutely still adore her and know that my life is a million times better with her in it.  I don’t want you to get the wrong impression by anything I wrote in that previous paragraph.

Last night my mom called me and asked if I wanted to take a spur-of-the-moment trip to Reno with her and my dad Sunday – Tuesday of this coming weekend/week.  My mom loves to gamble, and since my dad doesn’t, she likes to have me come along because she knows how much I enjoy it, too.  Plus, I hadn’t been to Reno in a few years, and the last time I went I won a fair sum, so I thought it would be a nice little jaunt to take before the summer ends. And I never do anything that’s too spontaneous when it comes to trips/plans, so I thought it would be really fun thing to do.

The only glitch was that I had to figure something out for Lulu, since we’d be gone at least 3 days and 2 nights.  I knew that Downtown Dogs, the place I take her for puppy training classes, offered boarding services, but I also knew they had a requirement of an evaluation and 3 days of daycare before boarding.  I thought it was worth a shot.  I called them and they agreed that because they’d observed Lulu in training classes several times, they’d only require one day of doggie daycare.

So today was her first day.  To say that I was nervous about how it would go is putting it mildly.

You see, while Lulu absolutely adores people and gets so excited when she meets anyone new (including kids), she is really shy and hesitant around dogs.  When I took her to a doggie social at Downtown Dogs she was a total wallflower.  She hung back, and while she allowed dogs to sniff her and she’d sort of sniff them, she couldn’t have been less interested in playing.  She loved it because she got to meet a lot of the owners and staff, but the dogs she could’ve done without.

I had to bring her in at 7am on the dot, and when we got there, the staff person absolutely loved Lulu, and the feeling was mutual.  Plus, they offered a webcam, and you know I logged into that as soon as I could when I got home.  She was doing well, following the staffers around, and not really interacting with the other dogs that much.  She wasn’t scared, just disinterested/shy. I also really liked that they separated the big dogs from the smaller ones. I’ll admit that at one point when I was watching the webcam and the first staffer we met this morning picked her up, I got a twinge of jealousy, wondering if Lulu would prefer her to me.  Crazy, I know, but I think it’s a similar feeling that moms get when they leave their children at daycare, right?

I have to say, I missed Lulu all day long, and really felt like something was missing when she wasn’t here.  The house felt so empty.  That was total proof to me (not that I needed it), that Lulu is so worth all the time and money I’ve spent on her.  She’s going to be a companion my baby for the next 14 years, and I couldn’t be happier to have her in my family.

When I went to pick her up there this afternoon, this is what I saw:

How cool is it that they had this in the lobby so everyone who walked in saw it first thing?! Lulu’s first day at Downtown Dogs was fantastic! They really go above and beyond, and it’s sooooo worth the money ($38 for a full day).

The “Report Card” from her first day. Up to this point, she’s been really shy and hesitant around other dogs, but today she warmed up by late morning, and was playing with two of the dogs, in particular. They also did some training with her, and said that she did great on “sit.”I feel like she got all A’s on her report card! :D

The owner even said she had to double check that it was Lulu, because she’s been so shy in the past. Can I just say how much I love that the business owner knows Lulu well enough to know that!  She also said the staff loved Lulu and couldn’t resist picking her up and snuggling her. When I looked at the webcam this morning, I saw several staff members giving her lots of TLC.

They sent her home with a “welcome kit” which includes a photo and a dog biscuit.

The photo of Lulu with her two new poochie pals. This now resides on my fridge, like any good proud mommy.

When they finally brought Lulu out, there was absolutely no doubt in my mind that she loves me best.  She got completely excited and didn’t calm down for several minutes.  It really warms my heart to have someone so glad to see me.

By the time we got home, Lulu was absolutely pooped.  Late afternoon/early evening is usually her “witching hour” when she requires a lot of play and attention.  It’s when she’s at her naughtiest, but not today.  Today she was completely worn out and minded me right away.  Currently she is sleeping on the couch:

Such a little angel.

I can’t tell you how relieved and happy I am that she had such a good time there today.  It makes me feel like I can board her there for the three days with no worries whatsoever.  Which means I’ll be able to concentrate on the slots/craps tables/blackjack, and hopefully I’ll win big!

I wish I could afford to send her there every day I work!  It seems to have gone a long way to make her mind more, and that was only after one day.  I can imagine how good she’d be during this “toddler/teenage” stage if she went there everyday.   The cost is a bit prohibitive, although they do offer a monthly rate, which includes unlimited visits a month for $515.  That equals out to $25/day if she were to go every weekday (and obviously less per day if I were to throw in a weekend visit or two).  Which is still a lot, but it is tempting.  I’d consider doing it only if I knew I was going to stay in my current place (at the lower rent), since my current rent + doggie daycare is still cheaper than the rent I’d most likely be paying at the new place.   Thoughts on that?  In any case, I’m going to try to take her at least once a week (besides our Wednesday night training and small-puppy-social-Saturdays).

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Update 7/30: After giving it a lot of thought last night, I decided that while I’m still living in my current place, I’m going to send Lulu to doggie day care on the weekdays when school starts.  They offer a package of 16 visits for $400 to be used within 30 days, and that works out to $25/day.  I’ll begin using it in mid-August when I have to start attending a workshop, and continue it when school starts.  That way, the adjustment won’t be quite as drastic for Lulu.  My plan is to try to move into a better neighborhood in a place that has a private yard, and at that point, Lulu will be able to stay home and use a doggie door to go in and outside whenever she wants while I’m gone at work.  Until that happens, I’m going to send her to doggie daycare, because I can afford it, and she’s so much happier.  Plus, it puts my mind at ease knowing she’s cared for and safe.  The fact that a tired dog makes a good dog in the evenings is another bonus!  ;)

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This is probably my last blog post until I get back home on Wednesday.  I’ll be tweeting, though, so you can follow my happenings (hopefully winnings) that way.  I hope everyone has an amazing weekend.

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