Guess who’s a good boy?
Jackson just celebrated his first birthday on July 19th, and my what a year it’s been!
I thought I’d do a little update since the last post about him was quite a while ago (especially in dog years!). While he hasn’t completely lost some of those puppy antics, every once in a while now we glimpse the adult he is becoming. Especially when he catches the ball without it bouncing! Wow!
In the time since our last post about him, my husband has been able to start working from home, so Jackson is no longer alone all day. It’s a big relief, as he was quickly outgrowing the bathroom area. It is nice though that he has been well trained and can be crated for a few hours without going bezerk so we can go run errands and whatnot. See our post about raising him here.
Jackson can entertain himself very easily. While some dogs are constantly seeking attention and interaction with people if not otherwise engaged, Jackson generally can entertain himself quite well. He likes playing with toys, working on his puzzle treat devices, and napping when we can’t pay attention to him. We do like the fact that if a ball goes under the couch, he doesn’t go completely bonkers and make us get it for him. He will try for a long time, but if he can’t reach it, he just finds a different toy.
I want to put in here that we DO pay a lot of attention to him! He’s learned “where’s your squeaky ball” and will go locate said ball in the yard so we can play fetch. He is so kind as to bring the ball directly to us and drop it without us having to pry it from him. When he gets too tired he’ll lay down with the ball and we all relax until he’s ready for round two. He is also a complete snuggle bug and we’ll sit curled up on the couch after dinner in the evenings. Sometimes he plays a game my husband calls “Who’s head is harder?” where he snuggles his head into yours and pushes until he flips.
We also like to take him to our little river behind our house and go swimming. At first he wasn’t too keen on not knowing how deep the bottom was. He would awkwardly extend his legs with each step to make sure the bottom was still there. Getting him to go in the deeper water and actually swim took a little convincing, but once my husband put on his waders and showed Jackson that it was okay, our born water dog showed his true colors. He now happily splashes in the shallows and the pools, trying to retrieve every stick out of the river for our inspection and appreciation.
One of the big milestones in the past year was Jackson was boarded while we went to Wisconsin for a wedding. He stayed for three nights at another family’s home. We got lots of pictures of him having a blast playing with the other dogs and we started getting a little nervous he wouldn’t want to leave! When we walked up to the door to pick him up though we could hear him start whining with excitement and he jumped into our arms like we were gone for a lifetime. He was so happy to see us, and us to see him. We were also relieved that the dog sitter was so pleased with him, she said he minded very well and was a joy to have (when we left him he was a black wrecking ball of excitement running around with their other dogs, so hearing this was great news!).
We’ve also been taking Jackson on more hikes and trips with us, now that he has all of his vaccinations done. We had been hesitant to venture into the soggy wilderness that is the Pacific Northwest until he had his leptospirosis vaccine. Jackson is proving to be a great hiking buddy and we’re even considering getting him his own pack so he can carry some goodies for himself along on the longer hikes.
Jackson loves the beach still, as a true coastal dog must. Despite his overall excellent manners, I never walk him off lead because we haven’t worked on “come” nearly enough for me to be confident to do so. The beach is quite fun, there’s so much to smell! Jackson will play with anyone if they come near, and if they’re displaying polite dog gestures I will let them say hello.
I’ve been in more than a few situations though where the dogs run up snarling or aggressively postured and it’s quite scary. I used to be able to just pick Jackson up and carry him to safety. Now I just tell him “leave it” and we walk away before the dog reaches us, usually with the other owners trying to call their dogs to no avail. Luckily we have not had any serious issues stemming from these encounters, and Jackson seems happy enough to keep sniffing his way down the beach and leave the other dogs behind. I have a couple secret beaches that we go to that the larger crowds do not utilize as much too. Jackson’s favorite things to investigate on the beach are crab shells, driftwood, and all garbage. Thank goodness, he is very good at dropping and leaving things when we ask him too!
Another thing I was sure to work on with Jackson was getting used to being touched all over, including having his nails done. I’ve heard far too many stories of dogs so afraid of having their nails done that it’s nearly impossible and I refused to have this occur with our dog. He’s a total dream for nail clipping and will offer his front paws willingly. Most of this is because when he was little we would touch his paws and give him treats and it was always a positive experience, making sure to touch every part of the paw including between his toes. We introduced the clippers gradually over several weeks working our way up to clipping one nail, then one foot, then all the feet, with lots of treats throughout. The only time he ever pulled away and refused to have his nails done, I found a thorn stuck in one of his toe pads, ouch! Such a brave boy.
He is also great at having his mouth looked at and ears cleaned. He is enjoying getting his fur brushed more now too, which is a good thing because he sheds like crazy! The one thing I would like to work on more is getting his teeth brushed. He’s tolerant enough, but it is a bit of a struggle to prevent him from eating his doggy toothpaste and chewing on the brush.
Jackson got neutered at about 9 months old. We waited a bit longer than normal since he was a bigger dog and some vets think that having a little testosterone production helps get their bone growth to a good place. While it was more expensive to get it done since he was bigger, we are happy with the results. He recovered very quickly and actually seemed to like wearing his cone. He would drop his toys into it and prance around the house carrying them in his cone. He also would put the rim flat on the ground to smell things out in the yard, which looked hilarious. Keeping him from getting too excited and boisterous was another thing, it seemed like all he wanted to do was jump and run around. Frozen Kongs came in handy again here to keep him occupied and still, and he has surprising little trouble with them despite his cone.
So all in all, year one has been great. We’ve learned so much about training and it’s been amazing seeing how much he’s grown and progressed in just a year. His head now is the about size he was when we brought him home, which blows my mind. We’re so happy we got him, he’s definitely a part of our family.
So happy birthday Jackson! Here’s to many more years of getting to share our lives with you!