Life with Casey has been very interesting so far. She's been
very busy and so have we.
We're nine years older than when Cody was a pup and we kinda
forgot how much a young puppy wears you out if you're doing
everything you should to train and care for it right.
Quiet moments like this don't last long
with a two-month-old puppy.
We're still learning about Casey's personality and temperament,
which is developing before our eyes. I think we should have
named her "Busy" instead of "Casey!"
(Ironically, her dam is named Easy, short for her AKC name of
Belquest Deep Run Easy Peasy. The breeders have another dam
named Busy. I joke that Casey must have come from Busy's litter,
not Easy's, because of her high-spiritedness.)
So far Casey is exhibiting more exuberant American field Lab
characteristics than the more laid-back English Lab
characteristics we were seeking but from what I've read that's
typical at her age. She has so much to learn about her
environment and our expectations. Everything is new and exciting
Like most pups I've had she's either "on" or "off."
She's always busy when she's awake, and can sleep through
just about anything when she's not:
Zoned out: Casey is sound asleep in her large day crate while
the TV is on
nearby (the blue reflection on the hardwood floor).
(10-31-12, age 11 weeks)
Casey showed more hesitation about new sights,
sounds, and smells the first week at our place than the second
week. Lots of things were new to her. At first she followed Cody
and/or Jim and me very closely, especially when we were outside
in our yard and woods.
It took her only a few days to become much more adventuresome,
sometimes just impulsively taking off into the woods when we
took her out to potty and play and not wanting to come back
until she was good and ready to come back. Evading us was as
much fun as playing "catch me if you can" with Cody.
Until she learns to obey "come" every single time we'll
have to keep her leashed most of the time outside, even on our property. She
wants to explore as far as she can see -- and farther. I
can identify with that but she's already hard to catch when
Busy, busy, busy.
"I'm often just a blur of activity, too fast
for Mom or her camera." (Casey, 8 weeks old)
"Sometimes I can be still for five seconds so Mom
take a less-blurry picture of me." (Casey, 10 weeks old)
It's a joy to watch her explore her environment inside and out.
She chases anything that moves like leaves, bugs, and Cody's
tail (poor Cody!), already listens/smells/digs for moles (one of
Cody's favorite activities), and loves to jump up, over, and
down obstacles like steps and tree trunks lying on the ground.
Busy, busy, busy.
I think she'd love some agility equipment like a tunnel and
steps. Cody enjoys those, too. Casey could just follow him
and learn how to negotiate the equipment with minimal training. That would be a constructive way
for her to burn off some of her energy.
We have to watch what she puts in her mouth because almost
everything goes in -- acorns, leaves, bugs, and tiny
twigs outdoors, anything loose, dangling, or protruding (like
knobs on cabinets and furniture) inside the house. Busy, busy,
"Something moved. I have to get it!"
(Casey, 10-22-12, ten weeks of age)
Casey doesn't miss much, either. She's very observant of
anything new to her or objects that have appeared in a place
where she didn't see them previously. Busy, busy, busy.
She's aware of movement on the TV, pauses in the front yard to
watch vehicles drive slowly past our house (probably hoping to
meet someone new!), barks at her
reflection in the sliding glass doors that lead to the deck, and
knows when we're fixing her meals.
She usually eats slowly and deliberately, diametrically opposite
the way Cody inhales his food. That might make it easier to
control her weight when she's an adult. The best way to get her
to eat in a timely manner is to add some yogurt or canned pumpkin to
her dry kibble. She still chews the pieces but she doesn't take forever
playing with them first. Busy, busy, busy.
"Where'd those pieces of kibble go?"
(eight weeks old)
Puppies from this breeder get more socialization and training
than most puppies from back yard breeders or even hobby and
professional kennels receive, partly because they
remain there for at least eight weeks, not six, but mostly
because this breeder wants her pups to make as seamless a
transition into their new homes as possible.
Casey absolutely loves to meet new people.
When we got her Casey had already been introduced to a crate,
collar, leash, and game birds, had ridden in a vehicle, had gone
swimming in a pond, had begun to retrieve objects, and knew how
to sit when told to sit.
She wasn't potty-trained yet, however. That's a work in
progress. She made some mistakes the first two weeks because we
weren't trained yet to know when she needed to go out.
Puppies this young have very small bladders and minimal
sphincter control. When they gotta go, they gotta go --
quite frequently. It's amazing how many times Casey can pee and
poop in one day! Her potty training keeps Jim and me very busy.
This wall plaque pretty well sums it
up, even after they are adults . . .
It's our responsibility
to anticipate when she needs to go and take her outside to do
it -- each time she wakes up from a nap, before and after
she eats, before and after playtime and short training
sessions (come, sit, down, heel, etc.), before she goes back
into her crate, before we go to bed, and once during the night. Whew!
From age eight to eleven weeks Casey's bladder can hold urine
for only four to five hours during the night. I get night duty
because my bladder can't hold it for more than four or five
hours either! (That's not just because I'm in my early 60s; I've
always been that way.)
I usually wake up at 2 or 3 AM to go to the
bathroom. Then I take Casey outside to pee. If I'm lucky she'll
also poop and not just want to play. Then she's good till I get
up at 7
AM to take her out, feed her and Cody, and let them play for
about an hour. It's important to maintain the routine we've established for her (she eats
about 7, 11, and 3). Consistency is the key.
Jim's very good about taking Casey out
during the day (or middle of the night, if I don't wake
up). He's very attentive to and patient with her:
Jim on potty patrol with Casey in our
front yard (10-30-12, eleven weeks old)
Fortunately, Casey's getting very good at letting us know when she
has to go if we haven't anticipated each time correctly. I think
that's pretty remarkable for her tender age.
If she's in her day crate she's got a special piercing yelp for "I gotta go!"
We take her out the front door because there are only three
steps vs. a whole flight of deck or basement steps to take her
to the back yard.
It was a Red Letter Day about a week ago (at ten weeks of age)
when she suddenly began running to the front door during play
sessions to let us know she wanted to go potty. She usually sits quietly
at the door so we can attach her leash, then leads us to her
preferred spots in the front yard to potty.
Yes! That's the idea, you smart little girl!! Here, have a
little piece of Yummy Chummy as a treat:
Yummy Chummies?? Ummm. Good stuff, according to Casey and Cody.
They'll do about anything I ask of them for a little Chummy treat.
We learned about
Yummy Chummies in Anchorage,
Alaska, where the company is located. Chummies are dog treats made
from salmon, originally manufactured for hard-working sled dogs. The
company makes seven or eight different varieties. You can now
buy them from Sam's Club, Petco, and other local retailers in the Lower 48 states,
as well as online sources.
Little pieces of Chummies work more effectively as training rewards for
Casey and Cody than pieces of their kibble and they're more
nutritious than many other kinds of dog treats. (We have no
financial interest in the company, unfortunately.)
I've already mentioned Casey's crates a couple times. She's
got three of 'em now.
We had so much success crate-training Cody that we're doing the
same thing with Casey. I wish I'd done that with all the other
puppies I've had throughout my life. It would have saved a lot
of chewed household possessions and carpet puddles.
There are many good reasons to use a crate with a puppy or even
an adult dog, from safety to training.
One of the best reasons is to expedite a pup's potty training.
Casey sprawls on her back in one of her
crates. (10-14-12, age 8 weeks)
We had some problems with Casey's potty training the first week
because we had her in Cody's
36-inch long crate (in picture above). It was too large and
she could pee or poop at the far end of it without soiling herself.
She did that only a few times when we didn't anticipate her
needs and she either didn't whine or bark to let us know she needed
out, or we misread the meaning of her vocalizations.
Even though it was relatively easy to clean up the urine or
little piles of poop on the towel in her crate,
"a few" times were too many times for Jim and
me -- and more importantly, Casey
wasn't learning the concept of going outside to potty.
Does this pose look familiar? This is Cody
in his small
borrowed crate when he was about Casey's
We needed a smaller crate. One solution was to make a partition
for the crate we had, then remove it as she grew. We decided,
however, that two crates would be handier than one (we could have one
upstairs and one downstairs in the van or outside in the yard),
so we bought a
smaller one to use upstairs in the living area for a few weeks.
The idea is to have the crate large enough inside for the pup to
sleep, stand up, and turn around but small enough that it is
unlikely it will soil its bed. It's just a natural instinct for
dogs to potty as far away from their living quarters, especially
their beds, as possible.
Even outside, Cody and Casey
instinctively know not to pee or poop close to the house. They
both prefer to go out into the woods to do their business. When
given the opportunity,
Casey began doing that at the tender age of nine weeks. We didn't need to train her to do that.
It just came naturally.
Casey changes positions frequently when she
sleeps; she often lies
on her back and/or draped over her toys.
(10-15-12, eight weeks old)
When Cody was tiny we borrowed a small plastic Pet Porter crate from a
friend. To my recollection he never peed or pooped in it. When he outgrew it we returned it
to our friend and bought him the
larger 36" plastic crate we now have. He hasn't used it since he
was about six months old.
The new 28-inch long crate we got for Casey is designed for 20-30-pound
dogs and small enough that she hasn't soiled it.
When she outgrows it she'll graduate to the
larger one until we're convinced that she's fully potty trained.
In the meantime we use the larger plastic crate outside or put it in our van so she can go
on rides with us. It's too big for the back seat of the truck
but the little one fits there, if needed in the next two or
three weeks. We anticipate she'll outgrow the little crate
pretty soon. At eleven weeks she already weighs in at 20 pounds.
"I have plenty of room in Cody's old crate
when I get to go for rides in the
van. I'm safer this way and can't get
into trouble or cause a wreck. There's
room for my buddy Cody nearby, too."
(Casey, 10-31-12, eleven weeks old)
Casey shouldn't be going out much until she's gotten all the
shots she needs (at approximately four months of age) but I've taken her to
Goode Park and the unpaved Wolf
Creek Greenway several times to let her walk in the grass where other
dogs don't often roam. She gets all wiggly when she sees people out walking
and running on the trail. Ditto with
neighbors out for a walk past our house.
She absolutely loves to meet new people and be petted.
So does Cody, who tries to wedge himself into the mix.
I don't remember any of my previous Lab pups being so friendly so young.
This is probably a result of all the socializing that occurred
at the breeder's farm with the various family members who visit
and staff members who help run the business.
"Please pet me!" Casey notices the little
chime when my camera lens opens.
Sometimes she looks at me expectantly,
as above, but usually she's too "focused"
on what she's doing
to pay any attention to the camera. (10
Her little crate, now just used for sleeping at night, is set up
near Cody's dog bed in the family room, which is open to the living
room, kitchen, dining area, and family room. When we initially had her
in it during the day she could see what we were doing most of the time
and not feel isolated.
She can also snore right through whatever noise we're making.
She sleeps as hard as she plays.
Now she's got a larger wire "day crate," too. I forgot we had it
until Jim cleaned it up and brought it inside about a week ago. It's so big
75-pound Cody can fit into it (48" long, 30" wide, 36" high):
We used it outside in Billings during the summer of 2003 when Cody was small so he
could be nearby while I was working in the yard. It's like
an enclosed doggie playpen, impossible for a pup to chew its way
out (Cody wasn't devious enough to figure out how to unlatch
it, and Casey hasn't tried that yet).
Now we put Casey in this kennel during the daytime between her
frequent meal, play, and training sessions.
When she's loose in the house during those times she has to be under
very close supervision. She can be out of our sight and chewing
on an electrical cord in about three seconds. We put her back in
the kennel when she needs to nap and/or we can't watch her
closely enough. When she's in this wire kennel she can see and
hear everything we're doing and is content to remain inside for
one or two hours before letting us know she needs to pee (or
This is the only way we can get anything done while she's still
so young and prone to get into trouble.
She still sleeps in the small, more enclosed crate at night for
warmth and security -- until she either outgrows it or
we're certain she won't potty in one of the two larger crates.
Camo Kid -- it's hard to see her when she
lies on the tan-colored fleece throw. (11-2-12)
Casey has adjusted well to all the crates. She isn't so fond of them
yet that she voluntarily goes inside when she needs a nap (read:
when Cody, Jim, and I need a break!) but
she no longer does a quick 180 to try to escape after we entice
her inside with a treat or toy.
SIGNS OF PROGRESS
A few days ago Casey got sleepy while
she was with me in the study, far from her crates. That's a
first. She's usually wide awake and in a state of
perpetual motion when she's out of her crate.
She tried to nap on one of Cody's beds near my computer table,
at my feet under the table, then on the carpet under a chair behind me. It appeared she was
looking for a secure place to sleep, so I led her toward the
big wire kennel at the other end of the house in the family
For the very first time she walked right in, hopped up on
the thick folded fleece throw in the back, and fell right to sleep.
Even though she's not in an enclosed space she apparently now
identifies this as the
place where she's supposed to sleep during the day.
Oblivious to the open kennel door
When Jim came inside later he very quietly opened the door to
the kennel. We waited for almost an hour before she woke up. She
had the most surprised look on her face when she realized her
door was open and she could come out when she wanted to! That
was also a first for her.
We'll do that again only when we're able to watch her, though. As soon
as she wakes up she usually has to pee.
Jim found another way to amuse himself this evening when he suggested we put
Cody in the crate and watch Casey's reaction:
What's wrong with this picture?? (11-2-12,
eleven weeks old)
Cody played along like a good sport while Casey kept circling
the kennel, trying to figure out how to get inside with him. I
have to admit it was very funny.
This big wire kennel is a very handy thing to have.
I suppose we could take it outside when we're doing yard/garden
work like we did when Cody was a pup but that's a chore in
itself -- take it apart, lug it down a flight of stairs, set it up, and
do the reverse a couple hours later.
Not likely to happen very often.
While Casey is this little it's easier to just keep her on a
long cord and stake
in our unfenced yard:
Busy, busy, busy (10-17-12,
nine weeks old)
We still have about three acres of the yard and woods wired for
our Invisible Fence system but
we haven't used it for five or six years. Once Cody and
Tater knew their boundaries at this house they were
compliant without having to wear their fence receiver collars
all the time. The system is so old and out of date it doesn't even work any
more. I got it in the 1990s when I lived in the Atlanta area and
have used it very successfully at homes in Georgia, Montana, and Virginia.
It's a great concept if you have a dog that can be trained to
stay inside the fence at all times. The main disadvantage is
that it doesn't keep other critters from coming into your
Since we'll be traveling most of the time in our
RV we'll have to decide if it's worth the expense to update the
Invisible Fence system or just train Casey to know her boundaries in this yard.
ADAPTING OUR ROUTINE
Until Casey came into our lives three weeks ago Jim and I had
routine. Our RV traveling lifestyle is anything but routine,
although we tend to sleep and eat about the same times no matter
where we are.
A new puppy in the household requires more routine, however --
not as much as a baby human being requires, of course, but
sometimes it seems like it.
"I'm glad I got Mom and Dad trained so
fast!" (Casey, ten weeks old)
The more consistency in our schedule, the faster Casey will
learn how to become a good family member and canine citizen.
We've settled into an eating-sleeping-training-playing routine
we can all live with. The routine will gradually change as Casey
matures and doesn't require so much attention. It'll be nice
when she's as low-maintenance as Cody.
Meanwhile, Jim and I aren't getting as much sound sleep as we
like. Nor are we getting
as much done in or out of the house,
except in relatively short sessions.
The crates help considerably but we still spend a lot of time with her
outside of them so she can get the exercise, socializing, and
basic training she needs.
At most, whoever is at the house can leave Casey in her crate for
only one to two hours at a time before she has to potty, eat,
and/or get some exercise again. We usually go away to bike,
hike, or run errands separately because until a few days ago it
was too hot to leave Casey in the car while we're doing those
We know this will all become easier as Casey gets older.
Casey walks down our little road with a
stick in her mouth, just like Cody often does. (11 weeks)
We have high but not unrealistic hopes for our new puppy. She
has tremendous potential and she's already given us a lot of
joy, just as Cody has for all of his life.
We intend to do the best we can to raise her into a healthy,
happy, well-mannered companion for all of us.
"He is your friend, your partner, your defender, your dog.
You are his life, his love, his leader.
He will be yours, faithful and true, to the last beat of his
You owe it to him to be worthy of such devotion."
~ unknown author, but a great quote
We'll keep you posted occasionally with more canine stories and
Happy trails (and tails!),
"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil,
Cody the ultra Lab, and Casey-Pup
© 2012 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil