Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Living With Gracie--Chapter 1

When I was a new mom for the first time, I had taken a Red Cross course on how to hold a baby and how to wash the child without drowning him or dropping him on his head.

My son was a C-section baby. We discovered after about 36 hours of labor that the reason he wouldn't come out was that he had one foot on each sciatic nerve. This left his feet a little hinky and I was instructed to do some exercises with him every time I changed his diaper--cloth diaper with diaper pins, no less--and I did so competently.

Let me emphasize:I had never been around babies or other people caring for them. Nada.

My mother-in-law, a nurse and the oldest daughter of nine children, came by almost every day to give me support and help me learn how to mother this child I really loved very much.

She came by one day when I was changing his diaper and asked in astonishment, "Why aren't you talking to that baby?"

I was genuinely puzzled.

"Why?" I asked. "He can't answer."

I had read a number of books, but they discussed the practical. Not one of them told me about talking to your child. I learned a lot that day, and I started talking to my baby. And while it was a while before he could answer in words, he started answering me. A good time was had by all.

Sorry, son, but training Gracie reminds me of that old story.

Of course I talk to her, but apparently not enough. I've read enough to learn that if I don't get Gracie's manners under control, she is in danger of turning into an incorrigible brat. And one tool suggested was talking to her.

My youngest granddaughter has accustomed her to the leash by taking her out and running with her. Gracie loves it. She will follow me now without fighting the leash, but she does find my pace boring, and my refusal to let her run off to jump up on the UPS man mean.

So again I am talking to her all the time. A trainer I found on the internet suggested talking to her while she eats, and I did that this morning. She liked it. He recommended two feedings; I keep some kibble in her bowl at all times. She isn't greedy. She nibbles. When she is really hungry, she sits on her haunches and polishes it off.

Somehow, she has discovered human food on her own. I have not fed her, nor have the grandkids. Last Friday, however, I scraped two chicken drumstick bones into the trash and went outside. When I returned in a few minutes, she had overturned the trash and was finishing the last few bites of the second chicken bone. Note to self: her teeth are really getting strong. So. More changes in how I do things.

She loves her puppy toothpaste so much it is hard to get the brush out of her mouth.

Obedience classes won't start until September. I would like to teach her to sit, heel, stay down, not chew up my phonebook or poop on my woven Indian rug. Oh, and not bite. I leave her chew rope to the kids. I'm too slow. After my fourth half-inch bleeding cut from her faster reflexes and razor teeth, I've decided that isn't prudent.

I've learned a herder dog means very active. Want ads today advertised a year and a half Corgi male, crate trained. free to a good home. The owner said he simply didn't have the time the dog required.

I hear that. An intelligent dog means one that needs stimulation. Whew! We're working on her ear-splitting "YAP!"

"Inside voice," I tell her in a soft tone. "Inside voice."

I swear she gets it.

Right now, she's sprawled by my feet as I type. I love that her feet always stretch behind her. When she sleeps on her back, the hind legs stretch out and the front legs fold altogether like a child's. AWWWW. Her bed is in my bedroom, and she has begun to use it instead of the cool hardwood floor. She usually wants to be in whatever room I am in.

I think we're bonding.


clairz said...

Gosh, I got tired just reading about your busy life with Gracie!

charlotte g said...

She is a wonderful incentive to hit the treadmill and build up my stamina. She may add some grey hairs, but she's probably going to be as good for the rest of me as I had hoped.