Thursday, January 13, 2011

Back Story: No weather for young pups

In my regular posts on maintaining a backyard flock, I have often written that it is advisable to start with day-old chicks in the spring. In Ohio at least, the reason is obvious: the weather. It makes sense that the same reasoning would apply to getting a puppy. But, somehow, I missed that.

So here we are in the dead of winter with an almost constant snow cover since some time around Thanksgiving and an energetic three-month-old cattle herder cooped up in the kitchen. As for letting her out, the best we can do is pick our spots: days when the temps are almost up to the freezing mark; sunny afternoons when the snow has melted back so that it's not up to her shoulders; short trips limited to the back deck.

All this has made housebreaking especially difficult. We have had to resort to paper training as an intermediate step. This is not recommended, but the dog books do recognize that under certain circumstances it may be necessary. We keep the newspaper near the back door, so that when we do take her out to take care of business she will make the association. She much prefers to do it outside. If we take away the papers, she will sit by the door and make noises to communicate her need.

When she goes out to play, she is like a little snowplow, clearing a path with her nose. This latest six inches seems like a setback to me. She, however, views it as a challenge. It's time to take care of the chickens. She knows that. She is waiting by the door.

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