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The Bissell is evil!

If it were up to Ella, my carpets would just stay dirty. As long as it meant I never had to bring out the vacuum cleaner again, she's cool with that. But that solution doesn't work for momma, particularly after days like today when Ella stole the roll of toilet paper from the bathroom while I was in the shower and tore it to shreds on the carpet. In moments like those - and sadly there are many these days - the vacuum is, quite simply, a must.

I didn't catch her very first reaction on video, so this is officially her second exposure. The first time, she got so amped up that she jumped up on the bed...and she can't jump high enough to make it up on the bed yet! Amazing what a little adrenaline can do...

Anyway, here's a clip of poor terrified Ella...I had to hold her for a good 30 minutes afterward just to soothe her and reassure her the torture was over. Good thing is, at least now I know how to snap her to attention when my loud claps or "Ah Ah!!" doesn't work...

Walks are AWESOME

It's no secret that I do NOT like to be cooped up indoors - unless I've got my eyes glued to my Mac as I often do. It has become increasingly clearer that my little pup also likes to keep it movin', so I think that means we are ultimately a match made in heaven....or at least, we will be when she's got all her stinking vaccinations and I can properly and safely take her outdoors.

Since I've been working during the day, my Ella has become, well, a bit of a pain in the booty at night. And who can blame her? She's stuck in my apartment all day, so when I come home, she is bouncing off the walls from 6pm until midnight, getting into everything she can, chewing up everything in sight. It's not her fault - she's just bored and has no outlet for all of her energy. So tonight I made the decision to try one more time to take her outside to a secluded place and run her silly while keeping her away from other pups and nastiness on the ground. And, unlike our last outing which turned out to be a wee tad bit more social than I wanted, this time we accomplished our mission!

I carried Ella over to the park (it was all she could do to contain herself in my arms - she was READY TO GO!), and when we hit ground inside the park, I set her down and we were off to the races! We entered at 79th street and stayed on the blacktop, running up toward East Drive where we crossed and headed toward Turtle Pond, one of my favorite places. We just kept on running around the pond and up the Great Lawn, then headed back down south toward the Conservatory Water (a.k.a. boat pond). Ella had an absolute blast and was in her full glory. I managed to keep her nose pretty well off the ground, except she did pick up a few little sticks here and there (starting with the sticks already!). We were out there for a little over an hour and she certainly could have kept going but i didn't want to over-do it our first time out. I picked her up to carry her back home and it really was amazing how much calmer she was...she crossed her little paws on my arm and rested comfortably until we got home. And she didn't even fight me when I stuck her in the tub this time! Quick, somebody pinch me...

Anyway, it's hard to get good pics at night with my crappy camera, but here's a video of us running along the Great Lawn, along with a few pictures of Ella's first night in Central Park...

It's a world of pain...

Times are hard, no doubt. And I'm not referring to the impending recession, or to the millions of Americans living without healthcare insurance, or to the unfathomable number of foreclosures putting families out of their, no...I'm talking about Ella's razor sharp puppy teeth inflicting unbelievable pain on my sensitive skin.

This is an issue that has historically been brushed under the rug and not given the proper attention it deserves, in my opinion. In fact, rates of dental-related violence inflicted by puppies against their owners far exceed all other crime rates in New York City*. I think it's about time we all took a stand against the brutality of puppy teeth - if not for your skin, do it for your furniture people.

*Statistics based on absolutely no real data

Ehh…roll over, schmoll over…

I think it’s safe to say that neither Ella nor myself is a pro at this obedience stuff yet. But I’m motivated to keep trying because she’s so freaking cute when she’s doing it, and she’s motivated to keep trying because no matter how well she does, she knows she’s going to get praise, treats, and lots of belly rubs.

There are certain obedience tasks that I look at much in the same manner that I used to look at some school subjects like Calculus – impressive to show that you’ve mastered it, but not particularly relevant to everyday life as an adult. I’d definitely put “roll over” in that same category. “Sit”, “Stay”, “Fetch”…now those are pretty critical to daily functioning, but “roll over”? Not likely Ella will need to bust out that move too often unless she happens to have caught fire. And after you see this clip, I think you’ll agree with me when I say, THANK GOODNESS…

Can you recognize the symptoms?

I think most of you furparents out there will recognize the key elements of PTBD – Post Traumatic Bath Disorder.

There’s the immediate post-bath rolling around on the carpet in an effort to rub away any scent or cleanliness that may remind her of said event.

Then comes the fleeing from the scene in an attempt to get away from the evil bather.

Next, she demonstrates overwhelming feelings of anger at the bather, characterized by piercing eyes and a pouty face perched on paws.

In extreme cases, she will demonstrate a reversion to infant puphood – a curling up in the fetal position, sometimes accompanied by shaking as if she were newly born and no one bothered to swaddle her in a comfy blankie.

This is some live footage of Ella in the midst of a PTBD episode after being bathed upon our return from the park yesterday. Faint of heart, please be advised – Ella’s PTBD is so textbook that she will have you all thinking I am a bad bad momma. I can assure you that at the conclusion of this video, Ella was transported straight to the poshiest vet on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, put in an incubator to stop the shaking, and then given the best grooming of her life to ensure her coat fluffed up to its optimal potential. Oh, ok, look, so I took her out of the bathroom, did the fun towel rub thing until she was as dry as I could get her, then wrapped her in a brand new and totally dry towel until she was comforted to sleep. Amazingly, that did the trick.

If only we humans were so quickly and easily cured of our psychological maladies…

Ssshhhhhhh....Don't tell!

I violated more laws in two hours today than I have in...well, i don't know, probably not that long. But the point is, momma threw caution to the wind and took Ella to Central Park!!!

Now, look, I went into this with the best of intentions. I told myself I was going to carry her from my apartment to a "secluded" spot in the park where not that many people or pups walk by, and we'd just stay on the leash and bounce around a bit, then head straight back home. I swear that was the plan. But, you know what they say about the best laid plans. And oh these plans most definitely went awry. But boy was it fun!!

I let Ella touch ground for the first time behind The Met. It snowed a couple of days ago, so she immediately went over to the snow to check that out. Here she is, just innocently standing around and looking cute...

Then, trouble. A French woman and her terrier mix came over. (As an aside, I should state for the record that I made a point of telling any dog owners up front that Ella was awaiting her shots to make sure that their pups were up-to-date and that they didn't guarantees, i know, but honestly i'm more worried about the bacteria in the mud puddles than i am about a rabid dog infecting Ella). Anyway, the woman was very nice but almost immediately suggested taking both of them off-leash and letting them run in a little enclosed snowy area next to the museum. I must admit, I suddenly felt like a teenager being peer-pressured to cut class. In Central Park, dogs can only be off-leash in the wee hours of the morning or late at night...but aside from those 'silly rules', this is only Ella's first day outside! And now you want me to take her off the leash already? Well ok, you don't have to ask me twice! Haha...well, look, judge me all you want but I'm so glad I did because look at what fun she had!

Shortly after her romp through the snow, she had another exciting encounter with a fellow Golden Retriever named Duke! Duke is 3 years old, and his mom and dad were very nice. I hope to run into them again because I think Duke would make a great role model for Ella. He was patient as could be, letting her run around and sniff him. She even got Duke down on the ground on his back in a submissive stance! We all had a laugh about that because I told them Ella and I have been fighting it out for who will be alpha female of the I'm not surprised she had that effect on Duke, this 75+ pound adult male!

Shortly after Duke left, a Saint Bernard approached! (If you aren't amazed yet by the pups in Central Park, you should be...this place is so fantastic, and a haven for pups and their owners alike!) The owner didn't bring him close, but they both noticed each other right away. Here's a shot of Ella sitting at attention and looking at him attentively from afar...

Now here's a shot a minute later when a bird lands nearby to the right. Bird trumps Saint Bernard any day for a Golden Retriever!!

Well, after all that, I eventually managed to get her out of the park, after being stopped every few feet by passers-by who couldn't resist asking to pet her. I carried my muddy and pooped-out little one home and immediately stuck her in the bathtub. It's a shame, really, that we had to end such a great morning on this note because she still hasn't forgiven me.

Fortunately she's asleep now, and hopefully she's having wonderful dreams about running through the snow, chasing after squirrels and pigeons, and making new canine friends so that when she wakes up, the torture of the bathtub will be a distant memory and she'll be ready to hit the park for some more fun :-)

Ella hits the bottle...then has to pee

That’s usually how it goes, right?

I’m not going to lie and say I’m comfortable with her starting so young, but what can I do? Sure, it’s only bottled seltzer water right now, but I hear it’s a gateway beverage.

You know how kids are these days. It starts with Canada Dry, and before I know it, Ella will be winning a Grammy for her song about her refusal to go to rehab. And well, then frankly I just wouldn’t know what to feel.

Anyway, enjoy it now while it’s still just innocent and rebellious fun…

I'm not exactly sure that I'm training 'by the book'

Now, I could be wrong.

It is possible that when the camera is off, you’ll catch Cesar Millan The Dog Whisperer teaching young pups to sit, shake, and roll over with the same high pitched voice, excessive praise, and enthusiasm that I have adopted. But…somehow…I doubt it.

And I’d also venture to guess that Cesar’s pups learn at lightening speed while Ella…well, look, Ella knows she’s loved and feels pretty darn good about herself, and that counts for something, right?

Here we are…a pathetic pair…muddling our way through obedience practice until we both get a little carried away and it turns into one big spaztastic belly rub session…

"Fatigue is the best pillow..." the expression goes. Well I don't know if that's entirely true, but clearly it's better to Ella than the crap Bed, Bath, & Beyond is selling.

It hurts me to look at her on the cold hard floor, her poor little head in that position. I know some people prefer to sleep on a hard mattress for extra back support...or on a bed of nails to demonstrate holiness. To my knowledge, Ella has no orthopedic problems or devout religious beliefs that are behind this strange positioning.

I mean, even if I've got a little bed linen diva on my hands, you'd think she'd still find faux-down more comfortable than the hardwood...

First official 12-step Chew-Anon meeting

"Hi, my name is Ella. I'm a nine-and-a-half week old Golden Retriever, and I'm a chew-a-holic."

(All together now...) "Hi Ella".

Tonight, let's start at step one: "Admit that you are powerless over your addiction, that your life has become unmanageable".

In spite of the current irrefutable evidence, I have a feeling Ella is not yet ready to admit she has a problem.

I, on the other hand, am fully ready to admit that her addiction is making MY life unmanageable.

To that end, I'll be hosting a Families of Chewers Anonymous meeting next week. Refreshments will be served, but be forewarned that the entire apartment will reek of bitter apple spray. RSVP ASAP.

Hard-headed hump day

Let’s face it, Ella is not just willful on Wednesdays. I could snap a picture of Ella’s ‘attitude’ every day of the week. Don’t get me wrong – she’s a wonderful pup and frankly I really dig and totally identify with Ella’s strong personality. All I’m saying is, don’t be fooled by how adorable she is…because as soon as you’re done cooing over her, she’ll pull your sweater right off of you and take it to the corner to chew on.

Here are just a few examples from tonight…

Here she is, thoroughly enjoying tormenting momma by decorating the apartment with torn up tissue bits.

Here she is, only slightly bothered by my leg as I try to block her from chewing on the drawer handles. Keep in mind I’d already ‘corrected’ her about 20 times in the 15 minutes prior to this shot. I think I’m getting through to her, don’t you?

And here she is, quite plainly saying “Screw you mom and don't even think about taking away MY box.”

Now, if you'll excuse me, Momma needs a cocktail.

err...smells like roses?

Now, I'm certainly not happy that Ella can't seem to keep her teeth off of my shoes. But I think we can all agree that in the end, she's the one who's really getting the short end of the stick here.

Poor thing. I think the aroma has her drugged.

I swear this video is not looped

Ever feel like a hamster on a wheel? Running round and round and round…always the same routine…no variety…blah, blah, blah. Yeah, me too.

Ella, on the other hand, is a dog. Not only has she never heard the expression “Variety is the spice of life”, she would shudder in horror if she ever did. To her, the routine never seems routine.

Case in point – this video clip.

We do this exact same thing at least 4 times a day, just with the hamburger alone. And she’s got about 10 other toys. You do the math. I can't. I'm too dizzy from watching her run back and forth, back and forth, back and forth, back and forth...


Agility trials, here we come!

Golden Retrievers are excellent at sports and agility, and I’m proud to say that – while Ella may be missing the “I’m a Golden, therefore I like water” gene – she’s already showing signs that her agility gene is intact!

Here’s a clip of Ella demonstrating her quickness, her adeptness at maneuvering sharp turns, her fearlessness on a treacherous and challenging course. Next week, I’ll begin introducing obstacles and we’ll see how gracefully she can glide over pillows and her toy giraffe. Tonight was just a test of sheer speed and concentration.

Don’t blink or you’ll miss it!

Say hello to Miss Manners

When it comes to eating, there are certain rules of propriety we all try to abide by, or least be as conscious of as we can. Some of the most basic rules include keeping your elbows off of the table, using the proper fork, putting your napkin across your lap…not putting your feet on your plate, not sticking your paws in your bowl. Well, ok those last two are more relevant in the canine world, but are still not so obvious to my pupster, whose sense of propriety flies out the window when food comes into play.

Here she is, hopping in her bowl, just making sure she didn’t miss any precious morsels…

Sit! Shake! Collapse from exhaustion! Good Girl!

Well, we all have to start somewhere – just keep that in mind as you watch this.

Ella’s going public for the first time, demonstrating her “Sit” and “Shake” skills. She doesn’t know her right from her left paw yet, but bear in mind, she’s only 9 weeks old! I’m just happy she now knows and responds to her name and is consistently going on the wee-wee pad! Differentiating right from left and building the stamina to perform obedience exercises for more than 3 minutes at a time may take a little more time and patience...I’m sure she’ll have mastered it by week 10 of life though, piece of cake.

Watch in amazement…

Calling all casting agents!

Now, I am certainly no aspiring showbiz momma, and I would think my girl was beautiful no matter what. When she gets food on the bottom tips of her ears after sticking her little head in the bowl, I don’t mind the crusty fur. When her nose is runny, I don’t mind the mess. In fact, there’s something hanging off of her in almost every picture I take. And I just can’t help but notice that her adorableness shines through all the crud!

I already talked about Ella’s interest in auditioning for a Cottonelle commercial…well, I think the pictures below illustrate her potential and versatility to serve as the face of products across many industries.

1. She evokes emotion.
This image just screams “Adopt pups like Ella” or “Please spay and neuter your pets” or “How could you feed this face anything but the best?” Don't you think?

2. She's down-to-earth and has no diva tendencies.
She's glad to put dirty socks in her mouth to sell your laundry detergent.

3. She has a face that can take your product line development plans to a whole new level.
She can expand Gund’s sales by showing their baby blankies are equally cuddly and well-suited for pups.

4. She's cute...AND sporty.
She can serve as a model for sporting goods and appeal to men and women of all ages…

5. She's got that friendly all-american vibe that you just can't go wrong with.
Ella is friendly, lovable, and approachable. And darnit, people like her! That smile says it all...

Please forward inquiries to Ella's momma directly, and I will reply based on her level of interest and availability to fit it in between naps, eating, and playing with toys.

There's water...and then there's WaterPik

Ella seems to have missed the memo about Golden Retrievers liking water. I’ve had to “torture her” in the tub a few times after she’s stepped in doo-doo and run around the apartment, or rolled around on her used wee-wee pad before I could get it up off the floor. And every time, she climbs the side of the tub desperately trying to escape.

In Ella’s defense, however, I doubt that she was bred to inherently like water coming out of a hand-held shower massage head on ‘waterfall’ setting. I find it quite relaxing personally, but I’m thinking she may take better to still bodies of water – pools, lakes, lazy rivers, and the like. Thank goodness we have a lot of those in New York City.

And, sure, I could fill up the tub and give her a bath instead, but who has time to wait for the tub to fill while there’s a dog with doo-doo paws scrambling to get out and leave her smelly mark all over the apartment?

Hopefully Ella will adapt to having a WaterPik cleanup now and then – perhaps she’ll like the ‘Pulsating’ setting better? Anyway, until then, I anticipate I will continue to receive many more evil looks like these…

Blankie took a hit

Poor, poor blankie.

Yesterday was a rough day. Ella had her first official accident in her crate, and well, um, blankie was blemished. It's a simple case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, really. Age old story.

I feel I should mention that Ella's accident may have been momma's fault. Is it not ok for her to lap up half a bowl of water 15 minutes before she's crated? Anyway, let's stay focused on blankie...

She's still in recovery. It's not yet apparent whether her cotton will ever be as soft again. And I think it's safe to say that those satin paws will most certainly never recover.

Condolences and blankie refurbishment tips are welcome.

She's not just a puppy. She's a metaphor for life.

Important lessons from a 9-week old...

First comes the fear, the self-doubt, the thoughts of backing out without trying, all to avoid failure…

Then comes the attempt, the pushing through the hard times, running on sheer will and chutzpah…

Then comes the mental and physical exhaustion, the negative thoughts, the belief that the hard times will never end…

But then…just when you thought it wouldn’t happen…you overcome! Ahhhh...the triumph!

Thank you, Ella. You are an inspirational example to us all.

A quarter-pounder for my eleven-pounder!

Grand-fur-ma and Grand-fur-pa hooked Ella up with a sweet Valentine's Day gift - her very own hamburger! Ella hasn't met them yet, but I think it's safe to say they've gotten on her good side already.

Now, I don't think Ella even really knows what a hamburger is exactly, but she knows it's a new addition to her toy supply and she knows it squeaks. And darnit, what more could a 9-week-old pup want?

Here are a few pictures of Ella lugging her burger around, and a video of her first play session with it. (FYI - the super cute play action starts around 2 mins in...)

Ella says rruuufff! (translation: thanks!), grandma and grandpa!