He's 13 weeks old on Sunday, has had all his jabs, and is turning into the little world adventurer I'd like him to be. I'm desperately trying to "socialise" him to as many experiences as possible in the 16 week window before his brain shuts off to new things. I completely misunderstood in the past what that meant: I thought it was just about meeting other dogs. It isn't: it's about taking him to town on market day, meeting people, hearing loud bangs, watching ducks at the pond, going inside other people's houses, experiencing noisy motorbikes, not being freaked out by my carrying an umbrella etc. At his age he's open to it all, especially if it's from the safety of Daddy's arms. From 16 weeks he won't be, and overcoming frightening new things will be so much harder.
His socialisation practice included a 3 hour drive in the car on Sunday, to visit his Granny in Hampshire. I kept him up and tired him out beforehand, but he was as good as gold. He was even better on the way home, when I decided going via London would be a cunning plan. Oscar used to shake and get panic attacks with all the traffic, sirens, horns etc going off, even from safely inside the car. Hector just took it all in. Meh, he's going to be a tough little Lassie boy. We stopped off for a visit with my best friend in Islington, but in total he spent 5 hours in the car that day. Just like a baby, the motion seemed to send him to sleep and there wasn't even a squeak out of him.
Hector is a complete bundle of energy and joy and I just can't get over how different his character is to Oscar. Oscar, the zen, shy, calm, wise old collie who spent hours in his basket meditating... and Hector, the excitable, bouncy, lunatic puppy who will go rushing up to anyone with his tail going ten to the dozen. Every day he has a play date with Bertie, his border terrorist friend. At first Hector just fell over and waddled round as Bertie charged by. Now he's giving Bertie a hard time of it, trying to knock him over, launching his whole body at him, and playing tug of war. Watch out Berts, your time as Alpha Dog is coming to an end!
He's growing up fast. Really fast in fact: his weight has gone from 6.8kg to 9.2kg in 17 days. That means he's piled on 35% of his own body weight in just over 2 weeks. I'd have to put on 4 stone to achieve the same! I'm feeding him solely on Lily's Kitchen: superb, holistic, organic dog food with 60% actual meat content: not derivatives, boiled up skin, carcinogenics and all the other crap that isn't fit for human consumption you find in the mainstream stuff. You can actually see the vegetables and meat in the food and he can't get enough of it. It isn't cheap (I've worked out he's already costing £1000 a year on food, plus treats) but the results are so clear. His coat is amazing, he has bright little button eyes, and genuinely doesn't smell. Farts, smelly coats and all the rest of those delightful doggie odours are often just down to bad diet.
He has a basket of toys, including his favourite, a "road kill fox" which has a flattened middle complete with a set of tyre tracks across it. Okay we're venturing into slightly dark humour there, but whatevs. All the toys go back into their box when playtime is over, so he knows how the day divides up and gets into a nice routine.
And the training is going well! He just rolled over the first time I put the lead on him. 30 years ago people would have taken the approach that you just try to drag the puppy and force it to walk. Now the way you go about it is that you pop the lead on and let the puppy wander around in the garden getting used to the fact it won't hurt him. You pick it up, tell him to come, bribe him with a biskwit, and he learns good things come from this attachment. Within 2 days he was walking hesitantly, and yesterday, his 3rd day he was prancing along the street with me, ignoring the traffic, off on his first proper little walk. I also use a soft harness as there's no pulling on their neck, which can cause a panic attack or a tantrum.
NOW the big news. Meet Florian. He's 9 weeks old and I'm meeting him on Monday. He's the long awaited beautiful, chunky, sable and white puppy from Oscar's dad's breeder. As such, he's a distant relative of Hector and will become his little adopted brother if the two get on, and all goes well. And of course they are both related to the one and only, late, great Oscar. How happy he would have been to have seen two collie babies in his cottage, looking after me, and giving me collie snuggles.
Two puppies in one go... am I crazy? Possibly, but to be honest I can think of nothing more wonderful than a house full of collies. The two boys will play with each other, exercise each other, destroy everything, and keep each other company. Hector has settled in so well, and the timing is therefore far better with the 4 week gap between them. Ive talked through fully with the breeder the challenges of bringing them both up at the same time, and think I'm up for it. So watch this space.