Happy birthday Otto!

Recently Otto celebrated his 3rd birthday. How time flies! Here’s a video of him showing off his tricks.

We are taking suggestions for what his next trick should be.

Otto, unleashed

“Let me off my leash, I promise I’ll be good!”

I have always been a helicopter parent when it comes to Otto. Case in point: the first time he started to chew on a stick, I worried that he’d choke. Fortunately Grimbil is around to be the voice of reason (“Dogs have been chewing sticks for thousands of years, he’ll be fine”).

So naturally I’ve been skittish about letting Otto fully offlead. However, in the UK having a leash-free dog is the norm  in the park. I was actually yelled at by a particular jerk for having Otto on the lead in the park (“If you want to walk your dog on a leash, do it on the street!”). But there is something sweet about seeing people walking around the park with their dogs happily prancing by their sides, and I always hoped one day that could be Otto and me.

I honestly don’t know if he is lying down or running

For a long time we kept Otto on a training lead that was about 15 feet. This allowed us to practice recall with Otto and give him a sense of freedom while giving me a sense of security.

Then we started letting go of the leash so he’d be dragging it behind him (with us carefully watching to make sure it didn’t get caught).  This let him play easily with other dogs while giving us an extra long handle in case we needed to get a hold of Otto.  The recall results were mixed. Sometimes Otto would come we when called, and sometimes we’d have to pick up the lead and get him to come to us.

But we knew the lead was a crutch and was keeping us from really getting used to giving Otto free rein. Plus it made him look like an escapee, which meant a lot of well-meaning people tried to catch Otto for us.

Then I sprained my ankle, and then  I was away on business a lot, so for February and March Grimbil was in charge of dog walking. And sometime during those months Grimbil decided to go for it and unclip the lead. And miraculously, it worked!

Otto heading off for adventure.. but he came back when we called!

This past weekend was my first time seeing Otto off-lead, and it was great! His recall isn’t perfect, but it’s pretty good, and it was so wonderful to see him pottering around nearby, running to us if we got ahead of him when he stopped to investigate something. There have been times when he’s been chasing after other dogs, and happily he actually came back to me when I called him. It probably helps that he is past his adolescence now and is a bit more settled; he doesn’t seem to feel the need to play with every dog. But still, I’m really proud of him and taking him for walks is even more fun!

Otto enjoying a nice end-of-walk roll

Sitting pretty

Otto enjoying the park

We’ve been trying to teach Otto to sit and stay at the curb before crossing the street. So far the results have been mixed; he sits on command at home but out in the real world he’s not so consistent. Sometimes we have to repeat the command and sometimes we even have to pat his behind to remind him that’s what he has to move.

But today I have proof that this inconsistency is in fact a classic case of that well-known dachshund trait “selective hearing.”

How do I know? Because on our walk today, we were walking parallel to but across the street from the park, and several times Otto walked over to the curb, sat down facing the park, and then looked over his shoulder at me in a clear attitude of “Come on, let’s cross the street already!” So it seems he has in fact made the connection that sitting on the curb means he gets to cross the street.

Cheeky but clever monkey!

Loosening the reins

As Otto gets older and continues to be well behaved, we feel more comfortable giving him increased freedom. Also, he now walks down the stairs even without us encouraging him! Some recent changes:

  • We don’t always put him in his pen when we’re not able to supervise him. For example, we’ve worked on the attic the last two Saturdays and Otto was left unattended downstairs. I’d check on him periodically, each time finding him napping in a different spot, not destroying anything. What a good boy! Of course, we’re very careful about the toys that are available to him when he isn’t supervised.
  • We’re also experimenting with keeping the door to his pen open at night. Hopefully that  decrease his nighttime barking.
  • Now that we don’t have to worry about Otto getting stuck upstairs, we have removed the baby gate at the bottom of the stairs so he can come and go as he pleases.
  • We allow him on the couch. He’s usually trying to get up there in order to get to his toys which we used to keep behind the couch. Now that we have moved the toys, we’ll find out if he wants to be on the couch to hang out with us.
Excuse me, could you please pass me that lobster squeaky toy?
No? Fine, I'll get it myself!

Let them eat (liver)cake

Last Wednesday at puppy class Otto had his first taste of livercake, and it made a world of difference in how well he paid attention to us despite the distraction of 7 other lively puppies. So in an attempt to get him to pay attention to us while on walks, we decided to make some livercake. I love to bake, but when the main ingredient is organs it’s just not quite the same….

The recipe:

1 kg liver

3 eggs

1 kilo flour

Fish oil optional

In a blender, blend the liver and eggs.

It's just doggy pate, it's just doggy pate...
Decant the liver & egg mixture in a large bowl, and add slowly flour.

The mixture was pretty sticky, so Grimbil took one for the team and mixed it with his hands
Spread evenly onto a greased cookie sheet

That's a lot of liver!
Bake at 175 Celsius for 40 minutes.

For the 40 minutes of baking time, Otto camped out by the oven waiting for his treat
Let cool then chop up into small cubes and place in plastic baggies. It can last for 3-4 days in the fridge and 2-3 months in the freezer.

The finished product!

It’s very rich, so you need to be careful about how much you feed to your puppy since it might make him, um, loose.

Our finished product looked more like liver bread, so we might use less flour next time.  But Otto goes crazy for it, so mission accomplished!