Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Robin's Diary: "Eat, Woof, Love"

Hi. I'm Robin. I weigh 25.1 pounds!1 I live with my brother Winnie, and our bunnies Luke and Daisy, and our Mommy and Daddy, whom we love very, very much. I love making out with Mommy on the mouth but Daddy says "I know where that tongue's been" and doesn't let me lick him on the face, so I lick his ears and toes instead.

When Winnie asked me to write my first journal entry a couple months ago, I had just come to live here, and I was shy and overwhelmed by all the changes in my life. I also really missed my twin sister, who stayed behind at the puppy farm.2 Now I've settled in and Daddy asked if I'd like to write another journal to tell everyone how I'm doing. I said "woof!" It's hard to type with paws but I use my nose and tail, too.

Mommy and Daddy say I'm the sweetest little puppy. I'm always so happy (except when I'm scared), and I love licking my Mommy and Daddy's feet. It's my way of saying "I love you so much." Unbeknownst to them when they first met me, I'm also a spitfire full of energy, especially in the morning! I'm definitely a morning doggy. In the morning Winnie wakes up Daddy and says, "Daddy we have to go potty!" Daddy usually mumbles something about an alarm not going off yet and lets us out into Yard. We come back in and Winnie likes to cuddle with Daddy and Mommy but I'm ready to bark at the day and get running!

While Mommy and Winnie cuddle, and Daddy goes to someplace called "work", I have my own duty to our household: neighborhood watchdog. I perch on the couch and keep our castle safe by barking at all the short gremlins3 and 'vaders, and especially the 'truders on two-wheel contraptions! I bark "get off my lawn" and scare them away. If I'm barking a lot Mommy will come and look out the window with me, and when I tell her what I saw she'll say "thank you, Robin, for keeping us safe." I don't know what they'd do without me, our castle would get overrun!

Guarding our castle from gremlins and 'vaders and 'truders!

Most days Daddy has to go someplace called "Work." He used to go out the gate into Beyond Yard, but then Mommy told me there was something called "Cone Virus" out there and Daddy's Work moved from Beyond Yard into Basement. Some days Daddy sits on Couch with me instead, and I help him type important woof-mails to his cow-workers on his 'Puter. But even on the days he has to go to Basement, I know Daddy's nearby and I get to see him when he comes upstairs for hot smelly water. And sometimes I even go down the stairs to visit him. (Winnie's never figured out how to go down the basement stairs but I figured it out right away! Mommy and Daddy used to keep a door closed to keep me from Basement, now they put up a fence at the bottom of the stairs. I'm still trying to figure out how to overcome that obstacle...)

Sometimes I take a break from working as neighborhood watchdog and I go into Yard to play with Winnie. We like playing Rope, and Stick, and wrestling, and saying hi to Winnie's closest friend, Emma, who lives on the other side of Fence. Emma and I didn't get along at first; she called me a "woof-woof" and I was scared of her, but now we're good friends. Sometimes Emma's Mommy and Daddy even invite us over to play in Emma's Yard. I like Emma now, but her Yard has several short gremlins that I bark at, because I want to keep Emma safe. Mommy says the gremlins are friendly and have names, but I'm dubious.

Me and my boyfriend, Finn
On the other side of our Yard, another puppy named Finn moved in. He's a big boy, and we fell in love instantly, and Winnie and I tried digging a hole under Fence so we could get to him. I don't understand why but Mommy wasn't happy when we came back to Door covered in mud from digging.

Daddy tried putting up another Fence in Yard to keep me apart from Finn, so Finn and I moved our romance six feet to the left of Daddy's new fence and started digging another hole. Then Daddy put up a small fence around all the wood chips and keeps saying "puppies on wood chips!"4 So naturally I jump over the small fence onto the wood chips so I can make out with Finn through Fence! Winnie hasn't figured out how to jump over the small fence so he barks at me because he's jealous.5, 6

A little while after I came to live here, I caught the Cone Virus myself :( It started out as a normal morning, Daddy woke me up and got me ready to go out the door, and I was so excited!! I love going for walks and rides in the car, so I was smiling and wagging my whole body. Mommy brought me someplace called "V-E-T" for a "S-P-A-Y" (Mommy and Daddy often spell things because they think I don't know how to spell) and I fell asleep. When I woke up later, I was in Mommy's arms and I had a cone around my head. I was really drowsy and drooling and it was no fun. It was a very ruff day. Daddy told me later he felt so guilty about sending me to V-E-T because I had been so happy that morning, and he said something about a "sheep to the slaughter." I don't really understand what that means but I know Daddy was sad for me, and he and Mommy took extra good care of me while I got better.

Me when I had Cone Virus :(
But even then I was still a happy puppy!
I was better by the next day. I was wagging my tail and smiling again and running around the house and up and down the stairs to Yard. Mommy told me Winnie took a long time to adjust to his cone but I figured it out right away. I love Winnie but I'm smarter than he is in a lot of ways. Mommy also said Winnie had "man pain" when he had his cone and was being whiney and mopey. I didn't like surgery, but I didn't whine or mope about it like Winnie! Also Daddy gave me bacon flavored pain pills every day.

After a few days Mommy and Daddy took away my plastic cone and gave me an inflatable cone instead. I really loved it. Mommy called it my "air bag" because I'd run too fast and accidentally slide across the kitchen floor into the cabinets, but my inflatable cone cushioned my stop. Even better, Winnie was scared of my air bag so I really really loved chasing him around when I was wearing it. I was sad a week later when Daddy took off my air bag and so I kept asking him to put it back on me, but he said I didn't need to wear it anymore.

Before Cone Virus happened, Mommy and Daddy used to take me to Puppy Torture Time7 at "Petco: Where the Pets Go," and told me I had to play with the other puppies. My first time there I did my best to hide in the corner, even though Carol the trainer kept trying to get me to interact. But I was scared! Little puppies scare me the most. I'm okay with most big dogs (like Finn, who's about 90 pounds), but if they're small and especially if they're under 5 pounds then they're absolutely terrifying!

Puppy torture time, but I found a nice corner.
Fortunately Mommy and Daddy could only bring me a couple times to Puppy Torture Time before I got too old. This made me happy. But then, they kept talking about something called "socializing" and how it was important for me to get to know other dogs. I kept trying to remind Daddy how introverted he is and how shy he used to be when he was little8, and I'm pretty sure I got him to feel guilty for pushing me to meet other puppies.9

Some time ago on a Friday night, Daddy told me we were going to the library so I could digest some literature.10 This sounded delightful! I could think of no better way to spend a Friday night than with a pile of books in my mouth. Winnie and I put on our lederhosen11 and got into the car. Daddy must have gotten lost while driving, though, because instead of the library we ended up at a place called "Unleashed: Hounds and Hops." It was like Puppy Torture Time except even worse! There were dogs everywhere, running around with no leashes, and Daddy ate a gourmet bacon-bits-covered hot dog right in front of me and didn't share! Mommy and Daddy kept trying to get me to play with the other puppies, but I preferred hiding underneath the bench where they were sitting. Winnie is what we call an "extreme extrovert" so he was having the time of his life running around and meeting all the doggies and their hoo-mans12, but I stuck with my bench, where I knew I was safe.

This inspired Mommy to make up a Robin theme song for me. It goes something like this:

"If you're in a big room, hide in a corner and you do the Robin dance!
If you see a doggie coming, hide under a bench and you do the Robin dance!
If you see a person coming, hide behind Mommy and you do the Robin dance!
If you're ever in doubt, hide under a table and you do the Robin dance! The Robin dance!"

I love that song. It really captures the essence of being me.

I love tables.

After a few weeks going to the not-library and Daddy never sharing his hot dogs with us, I started to get a little braver and ventured out from my bench for a minute or two at a time. If there were big doggies, I'd go play with them. But as soon as a little 2-pound doggie came up to me I ran away and hid. 2-pound doggies are the scariest!! Maybe someday they won't be as scary. After all, when I first moved in, I was scared of Luke and Daisy Bunny, too, but now I know if I'm nice to them they might sneak me some of their chew toys through their playpen fence, so I'm not scared of bunnies anymore.

I also don't get so overwhelmed when I meet someone new anymore. My first couple weeks living at Home, whenever Mommy or Daddy's friends would come over it was so much for me to process that I just fell asleep. Now I'm a much braver puppy and willing to come up and sniff new people. Of course, no one comes over anymore, because of Cone Virus. That's just fine by me, but it makes my brother really sad. And I'll admit, even I miss my Daddy's friend named Dog - or maybe his name is spelled Doug? - who used to come over a lot. Winnie really loved him, and I started to like Doug, too, because his face is furry like a puppy and he was always very nice to Winnie and me.

This pillow looks like my puppy daddy.
Even though I'm not scared of bunnies or some hoo-mans anymore, there are still lots of things that scare me in the big, wide world! Like running water, and baths. And the short gremlins. And, the worst: one morning every week, a loud scary monster truck that steals our trash! I bark and bark and bark and wake Daddy up so he knows there's a monster, and my barking scares the trash-stealer monster away. Daddy gives me a big hug and thanks me for keeping us safe. He says I'm so fierce.

I agree. I know I'm a strong, fierce, and independent puppy. Winnie always wants to be around Mommy or Daddy, but I don't mind going off and doing my own thing. Daddy says I remind him a lot of himself, because I like having my "introvert" time. I sit on my spot on the cowch,13 or on my towel over by Door, or under my bed,14 or under a table, and I have a great time just being by myself with my thoughts. I also like taking naps on my pillow, which looks like my puppy daddy.

I love having my picture taken.
Other things I enjoy include being brushed (I don't understand why Winnie hates it so much, I LOVE when Mommy brushes me!), eating Kleenex out of the organics, helping Mommy with laundry (I love socks), having my picture taken (as soon as I notice Daddy trying to take a picture I try to lick his phone), playing Baby Hedgehog16, and cuddling with one of my Lambies.

I also LOVE going on walks! When Daddy gets out my lederhosen I do the excited Robin dance where I wag my whole body (not just my tail) back and forth, and eat my leash while Daddy tries to get me ready. Daddy says I'm "spastic" but I don't know what that word means. I'm assuming it just means "so excited I can't contain myself!" Sometimes I grab my own leash in my mouth and tell Mommy and Daddy that I'm capable of walking myself. Other times I grab Winnie's leash because someone's gotta keep an eye on him!

Don't worry Mommy, I've got Winnie's leash.

When we go for walks usually it's nearby Home, but sometimes we get in the car and drive to "Puppy Park."17 I used to not like Puppy Park because there were so many other dogs there (of course, my brother loved it because he loves other dogs). Now that there's Cone Virus around, we don't see as many dogs and people there as we used to, and when we do see people the hoo-mans always stay at least leash-length away from us, which suits me just fine. Sometimes I enjoy when Mommy takes my leash off but usually I feel safer when I'm on my leash. Winnie likes being off leash, though, and runs to play with any doggies we see. He especially loves the ones who are fluffy like us.

Winnie's helped teach me a lot about living here at Home but there're at least a couple things I've taught him. For instance, Daddy says Winnie's a lot better about coming inside now, and it's because I convinced Daddy to give me and Winnie freeze-dried liver treats every time we come in Door. Sometimes I'll go outside for 5 seconds just so I can come back inside and beg for a treat, and sometimes I ask for a treat even when it was actually Winnie who came in the door, but I hoped Daddy wasn't paying attention to which doggie actually came inside. I think Daddy might have caught onto me, though. Anyway, because I'm so good at coming in when Daddy rings the "come inside" bells,18 I've trained Winnie to follow me and also come inside, and Daddy says it's all thanks to me that Winnie's being better behaved. And if Daddy ever forgets to give me my coming-inside treat, I sit politely and stare at the top of the fridge where the treats are, until he notices.

Winnie and I like to wrestle, but we really do love each other and like to snuggle when we're tired. He also helps me keep watch on the neighborhood and will help me bark when there's another puppy on our sidewalk (though he's not really very helpful, because while I'm barking "go away" he's barking "come play with me!" Very conflicting messages, I can see how other puppies would get confused by us). And of course we love playing with our toys. When I first came Home, Mommy and Daddy gave me some of my very own toys! Winnie used to steal them from me when I was younger, but now that I'm bigger, I can steal back some of his toys so we're about even.

I love my brother.

Winnie told me before I came to live here that he had something called "Christmas," when he got to go over to Grandma and Grandpa Puppy's every day for two weeks for treats! This made me sad, because at the puppy farm we didn't have "Christmas," we just had two kibbles for 400 puppies.19 And I was extra sad when Winnie had his birthday, because I haven't ever had a birthday! But Winnie "is empathy" and when he saw how sad I was he shared some of his banana flavored birthday cupcakes with me, and that made me so happy.

Daddy asked me if I could explain that last sentence a little more. Mommy and Daddy say Winnie has a very sensitive soul, and he can sense other people's emotions around him. For instance if Mommy is sick in the middle of the night, Winnie will wake Daddy up and say "Mommy's not feeling well, I need to go comfort her." So, we say that he "is empathy."

Mommy and Daddy say that for as much as Winnie is empathy, I'm the sweetest and most generous in my love. I love my family so much and I'll lick Mommy or Daddy's feet any time they want, as my way of showing how much I love them. I can't tell you how much I love my Mommy and Daddy, and I know they love me just as much. I'm so happy to be living here, my Home.

Thanks for reading.

- Robin

(with a little help from Daddy for typing and spelling)

Me and Daddy.


1 From Jeremy: Robin barely weighs in over 12 pounds, not 25.1. But she's convinced otherwise because when she first visited the vet she weighed in at 12.5 pounds, and the vet was (for reasons we still don't understand) convinced Robin would weigh over 25 by the time she was fully grown. Given that cavachons max out at about 20 (Winnie is 19.9), and that Robin's on the smaller side, we doubt she'll reach 25.1. But, Robin's convinced of it, and she's so earnest that we don't have the heart to correct her.

2 Mommy told me sister isn't on the puppy website anymore, but Daddy said if we ever do find her that she could come to live with us. Mommy's looked all over and can't find her, so we just hope she went to live with a loving family like I did.

3 From Jeremy: Robin refers to all children as "Gremlins."

4 From Jeremy: I actually say "no puppies on wood chips" but Robin has selective hearing when it comes to "no."

5 From Jeremy: It's probably not jealousy; we're pretty sure Winnie actually remembers the "no puppies on wood chips" rule from last summer/autumn, and is barking at Robin because he knows she's being naughty. Half the time when we hear barking outside, it's because Robin's on the wrong side of the fence (on wood chips) and Winnie's telling her she's not supposed to be there. He's a really good puppy.

6 From Jeremy: Update: While Robin was writing this blog post, Winnie has now figured out how to jump over the fence. He doesn't do it much, only to visit Finn and try digging under the fence to get into Finn's yard.

7 From Jeremy: It's actually called "Puppy Playtime," and is available (for free!) for puppies up to six months old.

8 Daddy's taught me that "shy" and "introvert" are two different things. I happen to be both shy and introverted, but I know you can also be outgoing and introverted (like Daddy), or shy and extroverted, or outgoing and extroverted.

9 From Jeremy: In particular, I kept pondering the book I recently read called "Quiet: The power of introverts in a world that can't stop talking." Eventually, I came to the conclusion that raising a puppy who is both shy and introverted is at least marginally different than raising a human child with the same attributes, and that forced socialization is more important and appropriate in the former case than the latter. With that said, I will also take this moment to shamelessly plug the "Quiet" book to everyone, either introverted or extroverted, as I found it to be deeply insightful in further understanding (and perhaps validating) myself.

I love eating paper and cardboard.
10 From Jeremy: Robin has literally eaten the cover off one of my books at home, so "digesting literature" isn't entirely metaphorical!

11 From Jeremy: A.k.a. their harnesses.

12 From Jeremy: Unleashed is really, really cool. It's an indoor off-leash dog park, with an adjoining mini restaurant that makes delicious (if slightly overpriced) gourmet hot dogs, with fun names like The Good Boy, The Mutt, The Clifford, The Bark-B-Q, and The Raise The Woof, to name just a few. They also serve wine and beer (hence the "hops" in "hounds and hops"). In the off-leash area they have about four "Ruffarees" who supervise the dogs' behavior and even clean up if there's an accidental "code yellow" or "code brown." Every time we've been there it's been busy, which is great for Winnie who loves all people and all dogs. What's even better, is that all the people there are dog-owners/lovers, and of course Winnie's so cute and fluffy that when he goes up to a stranger and says "pet me," they almost always oblige. So, Winnie has the time of his life. Poor Robin... well, she'd rather go to the library. And honestly, I probably would, too - fun as Unleashed is, being around that many people and dogs is what I call a "high-drain appliance" on the introvert battery.

13 Hoo-mans spell it "couch" but I spell it "cowch" because it tastes like "cow-ch". (From Jeremy: in case it's not clear: it's a leather couch. And leather is made from cow. The more I explain the joke, the funnier it becomes.)

14 From Jeremy: she means Alissa's and my bed.15

15 From Robin: No Daddy I mean Winnie's and my bed. You sleep in kennel.

16 From Jeremy: Baby Hedgehog is a game where Alissa or I will run around the house squeaking the puppies' baby hedgehog stuffed animal squeaker toys, and the puppies chase us, and then we throw the baby hedgehogs and the puppies chase them. Then, repeat. Can also be played with other squeaky toys such as Mr Fox, Mr Raccoon, etc.

17 From Jeremy: A.k.a. the Minnehaha Falls off-leash dog area.

18 From Jeremy: Not that Doctor Pavlov needed me to validate his research, but it really works well ringing the bells and associating that with a freeze-dried liver treat (or bacon treat, or meatball, hot dog, milk bone, etc) as a reward for coming inside when called. Robin caught onto this right away, and helped train Winnie out of an annoying habit he had of ignoring us when we called to him to come inside. It's extremely rare now that either of them doesn't come when we ring the bells.

19 From Jeremy: we're sure that was not literally true, this is just Robin's perception.